Chicken Pox (Varicella)

Chicken Pox Letter Home

CAUSE:

A very contagious mild to moderately severe disease caused by the Herpes zoster virus. It can affect all ages, but it is most common in children.

SIGN AND SYMPTOMS:

Early signs and symptoms include sudden onset of slight fever, a vague feeling of body weakness or discomfort (malaise) and loss of appetite. Within 24 hours an itchy rash begins in crops on the arms, legs, trunk and face. The rash breaks, drains and forms scabs in 3 to 4 days. The skin rash goes through typical stages: flat red spots, small blisters and crusting blisters. Lesions commonly occur with several stages of maturity present at the same time. They tend to be more abundant on covered, rather than on, exposed parts of the body. May appear on the scalp, high in the armpit, on mucous membranes of the mouth, upper respiratory tract and on the conjunctiva or they may be so few as to escape observation.

INCUBATION PERIOD:

Signs and symptoms occur anywhere from 10 to 21 days following exposure.

MODE OF TRANSMISSION:

Chicken pox is contagious usually one to two days prior to the appearance of the lesions and until the lesions have crusted. Transmission is directly from lesions or respiratory droplets i.e.: coughing sneezing etc. Infected individuals should remain isolated from others until all lesions have dried to crust stage. Immune suppressed individuals should be isolated from a person infected with chicken pox, as they are at high risk for complications, should they acquire the infection.

PERIOD OF COMMUNICABILITY:

Chicken pox lasts for an interval from five days before earliest evidence of the disease to six days after last appearance of eruptions. Chicken pox scabs are not infectious.

PREVENTIVE MEASURES:
  • Varicella Zoster Vaccine (VZV).
  • Use Universal/Standard Precautions. Good handwashing and covering of mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing, reduces spread of infection.
  • Varicella Zoster Immune Globulin (VZIG) is effective in modifying or preventing disease if given within 96 hours after exposure.
IMPLICATIONS FOR SCHOOL:

Exclusion from school is required until student is non-communicable, which is six days after the first crop of scabs appeared or when all scabs are dry and when there is no liquid in the lesions. Letters should be sent home to the parents of the other classmates and staff who are immune suppressed or who have not had the Varicella vaccine when a case of chickenpox has been reported. Any cases of chicken pox are to be reported to Coordinated Student Health Services, 754-321-1575. Students must have a doctor’s note to return to school.