Chicken Pox (Varicella) is a highly contagious infection, due to the varicella-zoster-virus.
The illness is generally short, resulting in fever and lethargy followed by the eruption of a rash that appears over the next three to five days.
The Chicken Pox rash consists of crops of small sores that quickly become fluid filled and then crust over after the vesicles have ruptured.
Usually the lesions are all fully crusted over by day 10. Once lesions are crusted over they are no longer infectious – until this occurs, a person (including infants and children) are highly contagious.
In healthy children infection is generally mild; however complications are more common for infants, adults and immunocompromised children. Complications may include skin infections, pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and for pregnant women possible fetal complications.
Chickenpox is a preventable disease, the vaccine is offered through the childhood immunisation program. To prevent spreading chicken pox it is important that any person with active chicken pox should be kept at home to reduce exposure and risk infecting non-immune individuals until all vesicles have crusted over.
In Victoria, the 2014 Immunisation Schedule provides children aged 18 months with a chicken pox immunisation. Children aged around 12 – 13, or in Year 7 at school are also immunised against Chicken Pox.
If you are concerned that your infant or child may have chicken pox, please speak to your health provider for assistance in managing the symptoms of the virus.