Chickenpox

What is it?

  • Caused by a virus  (varicella-zoster)
  • Most common in children and usually mild
  • When adults get it, they can be very sick

Signs & Symptoms

  • Chickenpox begins with a fever, followed in a day or two by a rash that can be very itchy
  • The rash starts with red spots that soon turn into fluid-filled blisters
  • Sometimes, chickenpox blisters can become infected. In rare cases, chickenpox can cause other problems including pneumonia (lung infection), encephalitis (brain swelling), and group A strep infections (flesh eating disease).

How do you get it?

  • Spreads very easily through the air or by touching the fluid in the chickenpox blister
  • Symptoms usually appear in 14-16 days, but may take anywhere from 10-21 days after contact with an infected person
  • Chickenpox is contagious 1-2 days before the rash appears and at least 5 days after the rash appears

Treatment

  • Giving non-aspirin medications (ie acetaminophen) to relieve fever and using calamine lotion and oatmeal baths to relieve some of the symptoms
  • A doctor may prescribe antiviral medications for those at risk of serious complications

Prevention

  • Watch for signs and symptoms
  • There is a vaccine to prevent chickenpox (Varicella Vaccine). Children over 12 months of age are able to get the vaccine free of charge. Call your doctor or the Brant County Health Unit for more information

A child with chickenpox does not need to be excluded from daycare or school.
Chickenpox is a reportable disease and must be reported to the local Medical Officer of Health under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.