Welcome to the chickenpox (varicella) section of the Washington Travel Clinic website. This page contains valuable information on chickenpox and its prevention.
The chickenpox vaccine is available at the Washington Travel Clinic. Our fee structure is clearly posted in the Pricing section. For an easy online appointment, please click here. Also visit our Homepage for more information about the full spectrum of our services.
Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The chickenpox virus spreads easily from people with chickenpox to others who have never had the disease or received the chickenpox vaccine. The virus spreads in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It can also be spread by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters. A person with chickenpox can spread the disease from 1 to 2 days before they get the rash until all their chickenpox blisters have formed scabs. Anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine can get the disease.
It takes from 10 to 21 days after exposure to a person with chickenpox for someone to develop chickenpox. The classic symptom of chickenpox is a rash that turns into itchy, fluid-filled blisters that eventually turn into scabs. The rash may first show up on the face, chest, and back then spread to the rest of the body, including inside the mouth, eyelids, or genital area. It usually takes about one week for all the blisters to become scabs. Other typical symptoms that may begin to appear 1-2 days before the rash include high fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, headache. Children usually miss 5 to 6 days of school or childcare due to chickenpox. Some people who have been vaccinated against chickenpox can still get the disease. However, the symptoms are usually milder with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. Chickenpox most commonly causes an illness that lasts about 5-10 days. Some people who get chickenpox may have more severe symptoms and may be at higher risk for complications.
Complications from chickenpox can occur, but they are not as common in otherwise healthy people who get the disease. People who may have more severe symptoms and may be at high risk for complications include infants, adolescents, adults, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems because of illness or medications. Serious complications from chickenpox include pneumonia, bleeding problems, infection or inflammation of the brain, bacterial infections of the skin and bloodstream infections. Some deaths from chickenpox continue to occur in healthy, unvaccinated children and adults. Many of the healthy adults who died from chickenpox contracted the disease from their unvaccinated children.
For most people, getting chickenpox once provides immunity for life. It is rare for someone to get chickenpox more than once. The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. Before the introduction of the vaccine, about 4 million people would get chickenpox each year in the United States, of which 100 to 150 died each year as a result of chickenpox. tHE chickenpox vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing the disease. Most people who get the vaccine will not get chickenpox. If a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it is usually mild—with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. The chickenpox vaccine prevents almost all cases of severe disease.