Welcome to the varicella section of the Washington Travel Clinic website. This page contains valuable information on varicella and its prevention.
The varicella 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.
Varicella is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The varicella virus spreads easily from people with varicella to others who have never had the disease or received the varicella 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 varicella blisters. A person with varicella can spread the disease from 1 to 2 days before they get the rash until all their varicella blisters have formed scabs. Anyone who hasn’t had varicella or received the varicella vaccine can get the disease.
It takes from 10 to 21 days after exposure to a person with varicella for someone to develop varicella. The classic symptom of varicella 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 varicella. Some people who have been vaccinated against varicella can still get the disease. However, the symptoms are usually milder with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. Varicella most commonly causes an illness that lasts about 5-10 days. Some people who get varicella may have more severe symptoms and may be at higher risk for complications.
Complications from varicella 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 varicella include pneumonia, bleeding problems, infection or inflammation of the brain, bacterial infections of the skin and bloodstream infections. Some deaths from varicella continue to occur in healthy, unvaccinated children and adults. Many of the healthy adults who died from varicella contracted the disease from their unvaccinated children.
For most people, getting varicella once provides immunity for life. It is rare for someone to get varicella more than once. The best way to prevent varicella is to get the varicella vaccine. Before the introduction of the vaccine, about 4 million people would get varicella each year in the United States, of which 100 to 150 died each year as a result of varicella. tHE varicella vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing the disease. Most people who get the vaccine will not get varicella. If a vaccinated person does get varicella, it is usually mild—with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. The varicella vaccine prevents almost all cases of severe disease.