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Chicken Pox

Chicken Pox (Varicella)

What is it?

A highly contagious disease caused by a virus; presents as an itchy skin rash.


Chickenpox usually causes the following symptoms:

  • An itchy rash of blisters
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Feeling tired

Symptoms usually last about a week. In some cases, chickenpox can cause serious problems.

Children: A rash is usually the first sign in children; appears as red-raised spots that turn into itchy, fluid-filled blisters.
Adults: May have fatigue and fever one to two days before the rash.

How does it spread?

By direct contact with fluid from the blisters or through the air when someone with chickenpox coughs or sneezes.


Varicella vaccine or MMRV (Measles, Mumps, Rubella and Varicella)
Children under age 13 years should get two doses
First dose at age 12 through 15 months
Second dose at age 4 through 6 years

Disease and vaccine impact

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes an itchy, blister-like rash. The rash appears first on the chest, back, and face, and then spreads over the entire body.

Chickenpox used to be very common in the United States. In the early 1990s, an average of 4 million people got chickenpox, 10,500 to 13,000 were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died each year. Chickenpox vaccine became available in the United States in 1995. Each year, more than 3.5 million cases of chickenpox, 9,000 hospitalizations, and 100 deaths are prevented by chickenpox vaccination in the United States.