What is chickenpox?
Chickenpox is an infectious disease caused by the virus called varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It is specially contagious, spreading in no time among vulnerable people. The VZV is another version of the herpes virus; it is, in fact, another strain of the latter. Most people have been affected by chickenpox in their childhood itself and they gain immunity once infected. It is not a fatal disease, except in rare cases.
Who gets affected by Chickenpox?
Mostly everyone can be affected by the virus, from babies to children to adults – provided they have not been infected before. Those with a compromised immune system may also be prone to catching the virus, for instance, people receiving treatment for cancer and those affected by AIDS. Most of the cases of chickenpox occur in children though, such that the majority of adults do not get infected because they have already been infected during their childhood. Children below the age of ten are the ones who most frequently contract the disease.
The disease is more serious in infants and adults as opposed to children.
Symptoms of Chickenpox
- Slight fever may occur at the onset of the disease. One feels tired and drained of strength.
- The disease is characterised by rashes on the skin which evolve to give a very itchy sensation. The face, scalp, belly and legs become invaded with pink and red rashes. Armpits, eyelids and the inside of the mouth are not spared either sometimes. Fluid-filled blisters later form, then drying and leaving scabs.
- Complications may arise in infants and those with vulnerable immune systems: bacterial infections of the skin blisters, pneumonia may result.
Pathology of Chickenpox
Chickenpox is an airborne disease, that is, the virus is spread in air. Coughing and sneezing are means of propagation of chickenpox. Contamination can also occur by touching objects which had previously been in contact with an infected person.
When the virus finds its way inside the body as a first-time infection, the immune system gets alerted. As soon as the pathogen is detected by cells of the immune system, a series of reactions are triggered.
Immunoglobulins are produced in sufficient quantity to fight the viral invasion. The law and order system of the body gradually gets rid of the pathogens when an adequate number of immunoglobulins are present to do away with them. some of these are then ‘saved’ and, in case, a new infection occurs, they are already present to fight the disease, conferring immunity onto the person infected.
Treatment for Chickenpox
Chickenpox is mostly not a serious disease. The body of a healthy child, for example, is capable of dealing with the infection on its own. That is why doctors say that it is not a need to prescribe medication for infected children, since they would recover in due time.
Acyclovir is sometimes recommended for people who are at risk to develop more severe forms of the disease.
When vaccination for chickenpox was introduced, people no longer contracted the disease. Those who get the disease in spite of having been vaccinated only develop a mild form of it.