Chicken pox used to be one of the most common childhood diseases in the past. Indeed, outbreaks used to be reported in different parts of the world. It so happens that the disease has not been combated and a number of babies and newborns continue to be affected in some regions of the world especially in countries where vaccination has not taken root.
Chicken pox is a disease that mostly affects children below 12 years of age. Although it can occur as a result of an outbreak, it is possible for anyone including adults to get the disease. Adults who get the disease happen not to have been affected during childhood and although they may have been vaccinated, they may have low immune system. This happens when they come into contact with an infected child or adults. It is an air-borne disease that is highly contagious and spreads easily when one comes into contact with an adult’s or baby’ saliva or sneeze.
Of adults who get measles, pregnant women are usually the most at risk. Pregnant women who get the disease during the first trimester do have the risk of giving birth to infants with birth defects. Such women are also usually of developing long-lasting health complications.
Infants and babies affected by chicken pox initially develop a sore throat, high fever and stomachache, symptoms that can last for up to three days. This is before red rashes that are itchy start to appear on the skin with such skin areas as abdomen, face, arms, legs and mouth mostly affected.
It so turns out that infants and babies who affected by chicken pox do have the risk of developing shingles at a later stage in life. This is because the causative agent remains in a baby’s nervous system for the rest of his/her life even after treatment. Such babies also remain at risk of contracting bacterial infections and especially bacterial infections that affect joints, lungs and brain.
Chicken pox is caused by the varicella-zoper virus (VZV). This is one of the several herpesviruses that is also responsible for causing herpes zoster in adults. The virus mainly resides in the lungs and tends to remain dormant on the nervous system from where it can reactivate only to cause other neurological conditions.
Chicken pox is a viral infection and there is treated using antiviral medications. A pediatrician will usually consider a baby’s age, general health and level of infection before making a decision on whether to prescribe an antiviral medication or not. There are also instances where a pediatrician may prescribe an antibiotic medication in case a baby has secondary infection caused by bacteria.
Chicken pox is easily prevented through vaccination. Babies normally receive the first dose of vaccination when they are between 12 and 15 months of age with a second and last dose when they turn 4 years. Similarly, teenagers who have never been affected and never received the vaccine are usually vaccinated, in which case they are also bound to receive two doses of the vaccine spread about 28 days apart.
It happens that babies who do not receive the vaccine and get affected never need to receive it. This is because their system develops sufficient immunity after infection and are therefore never at any risk of suffering from the disease or any other associated illness.