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Flashcards in Chickenpox Deck (5):

What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is caused by primary infection with varicella zoster virus. Shingles is reactivation of dormant virus in dorsal root ganglion


What is the virology of chickenpox?

Chickenpox is highly infectious:
- spread via the respiratory route
- can be caught from someone with shingles
- infectivity = 4 days before rash, until 5 days after the rash first appeared*
- incubation period = 10-21 days


What are the clinical features?

Tend to be more sever in older children and adults:
- fever initially
- itchy, rash starting on head/trunk before spreading. Initially macular then papular then vesicular
- systemic upset is usually mild


What is the management?

- keep cool, trim nails (itching)
- calamine lotion
- school exclusion: current HPA advice is 5 days from start of skin eruption. They also state 'Traditionally children have been excluded until all lesions are crusted. However, transmission has never been reported beyond the fifth day of the rash.'
- immunocompromised patients and newborns with peripartum exposure should receive varicella zoster immunoglobulin (VZIG). If chickenpox develops then IV aciclovir should be considered


Are there any complications to chickenpox?

A common complication is secondary bacterial infection of the lesions. Rare complications include:
- pneumonia
- encephalitis (cerebellar involvement may be seen)
- disseminated haemorrhagic chickenpox
- arthritis, nephritis and pancreatitis may very rarely be seen