Varicella, or chickenpox, is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It is distinguished by an itchy rash that typically begins on the abdomen, back, or face and extends to practically all regions of the body. The rash begins as little red bumps that develop into fluid-filled blisters that rupture, dry out, and crust over.
Chickenpox is often mild and lasts five to ten days, although it can be dangerous in infants, adults, and persons with compromised immune systems. Bacterial infections, pneumonia, and, in rare cases, inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) are all possible problems.
Chickenpox was a prevalent childhood ailment prior to the advent of the varicella vaccine in the mid-1990s. In Hong Kong today, the two-dose vaccine is routinely administered to children between the ages of 1 years-old, and then again between the ages of 18 months, considerably reducing the incidence of the disease. Some other countries do the 2nd dose at the ages of 4-6 years-old.
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