Chickenpox is an infection that comes from the contagious varicella-zoster virus that mostly occurs in children. The infection produces a characteristic skin rash that is uncomfortable and itchy. The rash then turns into blisters filled with fluid that burst and form scabs. Other symptoms include fever, tiredness, headache, and appetite loss. The virus is transmitted from person to person through bodily fluids like saliva and blister fluid. Unlike numerous other contagious viruses, a vaccine is readily available that is highly effective at preventing varicella-zoster virus infection. Chickenpox diagnosis is typically made with using a physical examination of the skin rash and or laboratory tests of the individual’s lesions and blood.
Most cases of chickenpox do not require any medical treatment, as the virus has no cure and must run its course. However, some individuals affected by chickenpox develop complications from the infection that may require treatment.
When the varicella-zoster virus has caused the chickenpox infection in an individual, the virus is present in their body and has the capability to move into the blood and other organs. When the chickenpox virus attacks the lungs, the patient will develop pneumonia. Varicella pneumonia is the most prevalent cause of illness and death in adults related to infections of the varicella virus. Pneumonia precipitated from chickenpox is more likely to occur in affected adults and teenagers. Pneumonia manifests in an infected individual between one and six days following the initial varicella zoster infection. Patients who develop pneumonia from chickenpox experience symptoms that include, fever, pleuritic pain in the chest, shortness of breath, cough, hemoptysis, and indications of hypoxia. When pneumonia arises as a complication of chickenpox, treatment involves a course of intravenously administered antiviral medications over a week. Chickenpox related pneumonia may result in respiratory failure if the patient does not receive treatment.
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