Chickenpox is one of the most common and most contagious viral diseases of childhood.
Is there a vaccine for chickenpox?
Yes. There is an effective vaccine to prevent chicken pox infection. Ask your physician or clinic for information. The vaccine is effective in preventing or limiting the severity of the disease if given within three days of exposure, and may be effective up to five days after exposure. The vaccine is not 100% preventative of chickenpox; however, the chickenpox case will be less severe.
How is chickenpox spread?
Chickenpox is spread by respiratory secretions (mucus from the nose and mouth) or by direct contact with the fluid from the blister (bleb).
How will I know if my child has chicken pox? Children with chickenpox usually have a fever and a very distinctive skin rash. The rash begins as red bumps, which develop into blisters that pop and form scabs. The blisters appear in crops and may involve the entire body, including the eyes, mouth and throat. The rash causes itching and will also cause scarring if scratched. Scratching may lead to a secondary skin infection if the skin rash becomes infected with bacteria.
How soon will my child develop
The incubation period (the time from exposure to onset of disease) is usually between fourteen and twenty-one days.
How long is a child contagious?
A person with chickenpox may spread it to others from two days before the rash develops until all of the blisters are dry and crusted over.
May my child go to school
if he or she has chickenpox?
No. Children with chickenpox should not return to school or day-care until all blisters have dry scabs, This usually takes about seven days after the appearance of the rash for the scabs to dry. If you suspect that your child has chickenpox, please keep your child at home.
Complications of chicken
In rare cases, chicken pox is followed by a serious complication called Reye syndrome. Reye syndrome typically may begin as the child begins showing signs of recovery from chicken pox. Aspirin has also been linked to the development of Reye syndrome and should not be given to children with chickenpox or any other viral illness. Symptoms of Reye syndrome begin with vomiting, confusion and sleepiness. Agitation, combative behavior and loss of consciousness may follow these symptoms. If your child had chicken pox with any of these symptoms, contact your physician immediately.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
If you have any questions about chicken pox, please contact the school nurse or your physician.
Annette Johansen, RN, M.Ed.
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