Chickenpox is a highly contagious illness that is common in children, particularly those under age 12. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) also known as human herpes virus 3 (HHV-3), one of the eight herpes viruses known to affect humans. The infections is characterized by a fever and itchy, red spots usually appearing on the chest and stomach first, then appearing in crops over the entire body. The red spots turn into small blisters that dry up and form scabs over about a week. Symptoms usually go away without treatment, but because the infection is very contagious, an infected child should stay home and rest until the symptoms are gone.
Chickenpox spreads easily. It is most contagious the day before the rash appears.
It spreads from person to person through direct contact with the virus. You can get chickenpox if you touch a blister, or the liquid from a blister. You can also get chickenpox if you touch the spit of a person who has chickenpox. The virus enters the body by the nose or mouth and can make you sick also.It can also spread through the air, if you are near someone with chickenpox who is coughing or sneezing. A pregnant woman with chickenpox can pass it on to her baby before birth. Mothers with chickenpox can also give it to their newborn babies after birth.
The only way to stop the spread of the virus from person to person is to prevent infected people from sharing the same room or house, which isn't practical.
You may notice several symptoms before the typical chickenpox rash appears. Known as prodromal, or early symptoms, they include fever, a vague feeling of sickness, or decreased appetite. Within a few days, a rash appears. The rash looks like small red pimples or blisters.
Chickenpox does not infect chickens (humans are the only animal infected by the VZV virus), but it was felt that the red pimples resembled chick peas, hence the name "chickenpox."
Symptoms of chickenpox
• A rash that usually begins...