Varicella - Symptoms & Treatment
Varicella commonly known in the United States as chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Many of these viruses can lie hidden in your nervous system after an initial infection and remain dormant for years before causing another infection. In otherwise healthy children, chickenpox usually is not a serious illness although its severity can vary from person to person. A person usually has only one episode of chickenpox, but VZV can lie dormant within the body and cause a different type of skin eruption later in life called shingles (or herpes zoster). Although it is most common in people over age 50, if you have had chickenpox, you are at risk for developing shingles. Other possible complications include a muscle coordination problem (acute cerebellar ataxia) if the virus affects part of the brain. This is a mild illness. Although rare, it is most likely to affect older children. Shingles is also more common in people with weakened immune systems from HIV infection chemotherapy or radiation treatment, transplant operations and stress.
Causes of Varicella
The common Varicella :
- Varicella's cause, the varicella-zoster virus, is a member of the human herpesvirus subfamily Alphaherpesvirinae and, as is true of all herpes viruses, is a deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) virus.
- Pregnant women have high risk of severe varicella, especially pneumonia.
- In patients who are immunosuppressed, risk of both typical shingles and atypical presentations, such as myelitis, encephalitis, disseminated disease, and visceral involvement, is increased.
- Varicella is highly contagious; secondary attack rates range from 80-90% for household contacts.
Symptoms of Varicella
Some Symptoms of Varicella :
- Upset stomach
Treatment of Varicella
- In the immunocompromised however, the disease can be fatal and they can be offered protection after exposure to the virus with zoster immune immunoglobulin (ZIG).
- Itchiness and skin irritation can be reduced by keeping the skin cool with light clothing and tepid baths or sponging
- Chickenpox usually does not require treatment in healthy children and infection will result in lifelong immunity.
- Taking a painkiller that you would normally take for a headache may ease discomfort if the skin is painful, and will help lower a fever.
- A vaccine is now available for varicella zoster virus. It is given to non-immune children (without a previous infection) over 9 months or non-immune health care workers.