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What is Chickenpox?

Chickenpox is an infection that is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. (1)

It is highly contagious and is characterised by a red, itchy rash.

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It is spread easily through coughing and sneezing in the early stages, and through

contact with the blister fluid in the later stages.

It is most common in children two to ten years of age. In adults, the virus causes

shingles.

Signs and Symptoms:

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Feeling tired and irritable A mild fever Itching Rash. The rash will usually start on the back, chest or face.

It can then move to all other areas of the body, including inside

the mouth, nose and eyelids. The rash starts as small red pimple

like dots, then progress to blisters full of fluid.(2)

It can take up to three weeks after exposure for symptoms to develop, and unfortunately

by that time you are already contagious. Most children will feel unwell for five to seven days,

with only severe cases needing hospitalisation.

Treatment is usually for the symptoms, and not the infection. Plenty of fluids are a must. Paracetamol can be used to control any fever, and there are pharmacy products that can be used to help with the itching.(3)

Immunization may prevent infection, but will reduce the severity of the symptoms if infected. It is important to remember that an infected person should be kept away from other people to prevent spreading the infection.

If you are concerned, see your family doctor or Maternal and Child Health Nurse.

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References

1: Chickenpox (Varicella) immunisation information. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30th, 2011, from The Department of Health Victoria Web Site: http://www.health.vic.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/813/chickenpox.pdf

2: Kids health info for parents. (2010, November). Retrieved May 30th, 2011, from The Royal Children's Hospital Web Site: http://www.rch.org.au/kidsinfo/factsheets.cfm?doc_id=10165

3: Chicken Pox. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30th, 2011, from Kidspot Australia Web Site: http://www.kidspot.com.au/popup_Article.asp

Chickenpox [Image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-WA-CRG29l3Y/TVeW_N5cUTI/AAAAAAAAADE/bfDZ9ZRlQCU/s1600/chickenpox.gif

Chickenpox 1 [Image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.rch.org.au/emplibrary/clinicalguide/chickenpox1.jpg

Chickenpox 2 [Image]. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.rch.org.au/emplibrary/clinicalguide/chickpox2.jpg


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