Chickenpox

Prevention

The spread of chicken pox can be prevented by isolating affected individuals.  Also, the virus is susceptible to chlorine bleach and other notable disinfectants, as well as heat, detergents, and desiccation. The varicella vaccine, first developed in 1974, has proven to be highly effective at preventing the onset of the chickenpox infection. Some countries even require that the vaccine is administered to children before they attend elementary school. Even if a vaccinated person does become infected with the virus, the strain will be milder and symptoms will be fewer in scope and nature. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that getting the vaccine provides 100 percent protection for about ninety percent of young children who receive it. Additionally, individuals who have had chickenpox are usually immune to it for the rest of their lives.

Treatment

Although there is not yet any definitive cure for the condition, there are many remedies in place to ease the onset of symptoms. Infected persons usually cut their nails short and/or wear gloves to prevent themselves from scratching and spreading the infection elsewhere. Maintaining the utmost personal hygiene practices is also vital for disintegration of the infection – daily cleaning of skin with warm water can prevent the onset of a secondary bacterial infection, along with a regular application of calamine lotion. Acetaminophen (but not aspirin) is commonly used as a fever reducing agent – aspirin should never be used by someone with chickenpox, as it can potentially lead to Reye syndrome. Some individuals are also given VZIG, an immune globulin containing high doses of antibodies to ward off additional complications. Antiviral drugs are also sometimes granted for high risk infected persons. Colloidal oatmeal baths can also be a natural source of soothing for itching and adults are strongly advised to increase their water consumption during the course of treatment to reduce the risk of dehydration and likely onset of headaches.

Recent Debates and Developments

There is much controversy surrounding the effectiveness and safety features of the varicella vaccine, especially because the vaccination does not provide the life long immunity that the natural onset of the infection carries. Additionally, since the influx of the vaccine, individuals have been at greater risk for contracting shingles, an infection that humans had previously been naturally immune to. Children, particularly, had the highest rates of shingles (a double in size since before the vaccination) in history between 2000 and 2003. This increased rate of shingles is especially problematic in that adults with shingles are twenty times more likely to die than a child who naturally catches chickenpox.

More Information

Mayo Clinic: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chickenpox/DS00053/DSECTION=treatments%2Dand%2Ddrugs

Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chickenpox#Prevention

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/index.html

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