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Definition of Varicella (chickenpox)

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Varicella (chickenpox): A highly infectious viral disease, known familiarly as chickenpox. (In many countries, this disease is always called "varicella.") In rare cases, it can cause major problems including pneumonia and encephalitis. Reactivation of the same herpes virus is responsible for shingles(zoster). Chickenpox is responsible for more deaths than measles (rubeola),  mumpswhooping cough (pertussis) and H.  flu (Haemophilus influenza type B)  meningitis combined. Contrary to what many people believe, chickenpox is by no means a mild disease. The current aim in the U.S. is to achieve universal (or come as close as possible to universal) immunization of children with the chickenpox vaccine. The rationale for childhood chickenpox vaccination is not just to protect the children but also to protect everyone with whom they come in contact, including adults (who can die from the chickenpox) and pregnant women (so that the unborn baby does not get chickenpox).

Chickenpox-Illustration (Varicella)

Reviewed on 12/31/2018

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