Varicella Zoster Virus – an Overview

Varicella-zoster virus is a germ that is responsible for chickenpox infection and results in a skin rash. (Chickenpox itself is also called varicella-zoster.) It is common for people to have it, when they are young, especially if they haven’t had a chickenpox vaccine.

A child with chickenpox can easily give the virus to other children. Chickenpox today is not as common because most children get vaccinated when they are young. The first vaccine for chickenpox wasn’t approved in the U.S. until 1995, before then almost everyone got chickenpox. Very few had complications.

Once you have had chickenpox once, you won’t have it again from another person. If you’re not vaccinated, you can get chickenpox at any age. Chickenpox can appear to be more severe if it happens to an adult, so it’s better to have chickenpox when you’re a child, or prevent getting it by being vaccinated.

There are three stages of chickenpox and they usually refer to the way the rash looks. Stage one is a red and bumpy rash. Stage two is the fluid-filled blister rash. Stage three is when the blisters break and scab over.

How is Chickenpox Contracted

Chickenpox can happen to any child at any age. Your child may seem well for one to three weeks after exposure to the chickenpox before developing symptoms. The virus can be spread from the day before symptoms occur until around five days after a skin rash appears.

Here are some of the way the virus can be transmitted:

  • Coming into contact with a chickenpox sufferer.
  • Receiving airborne infection from a sick individual who sneezes or coughs.
  • Obtaining bodily fluids from an infected child’s mouth, nose, or eyes.