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Chickenpox (Varicella)


Chickenpox is a highly infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). An infected individual could potentially spread the illness to 90 percent of susceptible household contacts. Varicella causes a systemic infection that results typically in lifetime immunity. It is transmitted from person to person by direct contact, inhalation of aerosols from fluid of skin lesions, or infected respiratory tract secretions that might be aerosolized.

The average incubation period for varicella is 14-16 days after exposure to rash. The period of contagiousness of infected persons is estimated to begin 1-2 days before the onset of rash and to end when all lesions are crusted, typically 4-7 days after onset of rash.

Two live attenuated varicella virus vaccines are licensed in the United States: single-antigen varicella vaccine and combination Measles-Mumps-Rubella-Varicella (MMRV) vaccine. Both vaccines are licensed for use among healthy persons ages 12 months and older.

Routine vaccination using a two-dose series is recommended. Children should receive their first dose of varicella-containing vaccine at age 12-15 months, and a second dose between ages 4 and 6 years.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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Chickenpox and the Chickenpox Vaccine

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This information paper describes the Chickenpox virus and the Chickenpox vaccine.

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Last Updated: April 03, 2020

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