Previously, about 3
1/2 million people would contract chicken pox each year, but with
the introduction of a vaccine this infection is much less common
today. The highly contagious illness is most common among children
between ages one and nine. Adolescents and adults are usually immune
because of childhood infection, but usually have more difficulty
with chicken pox if they contract it.
A widespread rash, beginning on the truck and spreading to the arms,
face and scalp, is the most prominent symptom. The rash begins as a
crop of small red spots, which quickly become raised, fluid filled
blisters. These blisters then break and form yellowish scabs. As the
initial rash crusts over, new spots appear. At the height of the
illness, spots, blisters, and scabs are all present on the skin.
Once all the blisters have crusted over, usually seven days after
the first breakout, the disease is no longer contagious.
Chicken pox travels from child to child via airborne viral particles
shed from the respiratory passages and blisters. After it enters a
child’s system, the virus incubates for 14 to 21 days before the
rash appears. For 24 hours before the rash appears the disease is
contagious, so it is not always possible to avoid exposure.
Chicken Pox Vaccine