Chickenpox | (خسرہ، چھوٹی چیچک یا لاکڑاکاکڑا چکن پاکس)

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Chickenpox


Chickenpox is an infectious disease caused by Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV).

It is a common childhood infection usually occurs in less than 10 years old children.  Almost everyone gets it in the childhood years.  People who are not vaccinated with chickenpox vaccine or never had chickenpox infection can get this infection at any age, however often considered as childhood disease.

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Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that means it can quickly transfer to healthy person upon close contact to the person who is infected with chickenpox.   

It causes red itchy rash, which later turn into watery pus-filled blisters and eventually become dried crust and fall off.   Most patients suffer with extreme itch in and around the blisters however some do not feel itch at all.   The patient can transmit the infection 1-2 days before the rash appears until all blisters get dried.  

Healthy people should avoid close contact with the patient, especially new born babies, pregnant women or people who have weakened immune system (for e.g. cancer patients and patients who are on immuno-suppressive drugs due to organ transplant) are most at risk.

Chicken pox is mostly a mild infection and patient starts to feel better after 7-10 days. Possible complications occur when blisters get infected with bacteria.

People who once have had chickenpox are unlikely to get it again.  However, after recovery from chickenpox, the virus hides in the nerve muscles for the rest of the life.  In some people at elderly age, the chickenpox virus gets reactivated and cause Shingles or Zoster.   Shingles is a repeat infection of chickenpox or reactivation of chickenpox virus. Shingles is very painful condition and it usually occurs in people above 50 years.

The typical symptoms include:

Courtesy: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Courtesy: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Itchy rash or spots that would later turn into watery pus-filled blisters or pustules
  • Rash starts to appear on the face, ear, chest and spread all over the body. Many children also experience rash inside the mouth and eyelids
  • In about 7 - 10 days, all blisters will turn into scabs (die-off)

In general, patient may also experience:

• Fever

• Fatigue

• Headache and body ache

• Loss of appetite

Infected child should not be sent to school and away from social gatherings to avoid infection spread to other kids and especially to people who may be at higher risk of infection e.g. pregnant women, cancer patients and transplant patients.

Chickenpox infected person can transmit the infection 1-2 days before the rash appears until the rash becomes dry crust or scabs.

Complications due to chickenpox may include:

1. Severe bacterial infection or sepsis (infection in blood stream)

2. Pneumonia

3. Dehydration

 4. Infection or inflammation in the brain (encephalitis or meningitis)

Some patients require hospitalization due to complications.  Complication of chickenpox can also cause death.

Patients who experience severe symptoms or have higher chance of suffering with complications are:

• Infants
• Pregnant women
• Immuno-compromised patients (Cancer or transplant patients)

It is caused by a virus called varicella zoster.  A person can get chickenpox if he/she comes in close contact with the person who have active chickenpox infection.

Lungs - dust-98744_640 (2)The virus can spread from the infected person’s respiratory tract secretions in the form of droplets of air while sneezing and coughing inhaled by healthy person who never had chickenpox infection or received chickenpox vaccine.

Chickenpox virus can also be spread from the surfaces and objects contaminated with the virus (e.g. bedsheets, clothing used by chickenpox patient, utensils).

Children usually get the infection from school, day care or other social gatherings.

The virus takes about 7 – 21 days after entering the body to establish the infection.  This is called incubation period of the disease.

Chickenpox virus can also spread while a healthy person comes in contact with a person who is suffering with Shingles.

Chickenpox is mostly diagnosed from its characteristic rash.  Most occasions no laboratory test is required for diagnosis.

In rare cases, chickenpox rash are confused with other skin conditions for e.g. scabies or insect bite.

It is helpful for the doctor to confirm the diagnosis, if the patient has recently been in contact with someone who had chickenpox.

Broadly, there are two types of treatments for uncomplicated chickenpox infection:

1) Treatment relieves symptoms:

pills-1582469_640Most chickenpox cases require only symptom reliving treatment such as fever-managing and itch-controlling medications. To control fever, paracetamol should be given. For controlling itch on the skin, calamine lotion is very effective.  Sometimes, doctors also prescribe antihistamine drugs that help to control the itch.

Patient’s nails should be trimmed to avoid infection in the blisters due to scratching.

It is important to note that children suffering with chickenpox should not be given Aspirin or Aspirin-containing medications because it can cause Reye’s Syndrome that can even cause death.

2) Attacks the virus:

Antiviral drug (Acyclovir and similar drugs) are used for specific patients who may have higher chance of developing complications. These drugs reduces the cycle of the disease when initiated in the first 24 hours of rash formation. Not all patients require antiviral medications.

Chickenpox complications:

Complications may include:

1. Severe bacterial infection or sepsis (infection in blood stream)

2. Pneumonia

3. Infection or inflammation in the brain (encephalitis or meningitis)

Patients suffer with complications may require antibiotic treatment. Some patients may also require hospitalization.

Chickenpox vaccination is safe and effective way of preventing the infection.

Courtesy: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Courtesy: US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Infected child should not be sent to school and away from social gatherings to avoid infection

spread. Adult patients should also stay home, avoid meeting with people until crusts falls off. 

Keep the infected child away from other siblings to prevent the spread of infection.  Children usually get the infection from school, day care or other social gatherings.

 

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2 Comments

  • Aftab ali mirani

    Reply
    Posted on Mar 11, 2017 at 10:59 am

    Kia is marz ki vaccine pakistan men maujood hai aur agar hai to kia routine vaccination men shamil hai.?

  • Aftab ali mirani

    Reply
    Posted on Mar 11, 2017 at 11:01 am

    Kia chickenpox ki vaccine e.p.i men shamil hai.?

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