What is Chickenpox, and how does it spread?
Chickenpox is a highly transmittable, airborne disease that is mainly caused by the initial infection with the virus of varicella-zoster, coded as VZV. Chickenpox is also known as the varicella virus. Chickenpox quickly spreads via the sneezes and coughs of an infected person. This contagious disease results in a skin rash that forms tiny, itchy blisters, which finally scabs over. It usually starts on the back, chest, and face, and after that, it spreads to the whole body.
Besides, Chickenpox may be spread from one up to two days before the rash appears. However, it may also spread through direct contact with the blisters. Those people with shingles may spread the virus to those who do not have a robust immune system or by the connection with blisters. The disease of Chickenpox can generally be diagnosed mainly based on the presenting symptom.
But, there exist some unusual cases and the virus can be confirmed via the reaction of polymerase chain (PCR) once testing of the scabs or blister fluid. Concerning the testing for antibodies, it can be done in order to discover if a person is immune. Usually, people get the disease of Chickenpox only once. Although reinfections by the virus still occur, and these reinfections generally do not cause any symptoms.
In 1995, the first case of Chickenpox was introduced, and the varicella vaccine resulted in a decrease in the number of virus cases and complications. The vaccine tends to protect around 70 - 90 % of people from Chickenpox disease and prevent severe disease.
In countries, which are characterized by a mild, temperate climate, Chickenpox became a disease of children, and the most number of cases were occurred during the spring and winter, most likely because of school contact. Chickenpox is one of the classic diseases of childhood, which are described with the highest commonness in the age group of 4 to 10-year-old children.
Chickenpox, or let's call it Varicella is highly spreadable, with an infection rate of 90% mostly in close contacts. In those types of countries, the majority of people become infected before adulthood, and only 10% of young adults remain as an easy target for the virus. However, in the tropics, Chickenpox frequently occurs in a group of older people, and it can cause much more severe diseases. As in adults, the blemishes appear much darker, and the scars more eminent than in children.
It is yet unknown how the term - "Chickenpox" originated. However, there are some suggestions that the name may be due to the fact that it is a relatively mild disease. It has been mentioned that the term first was derived from chickpeas, mainly based on the similarity of the vesicles to chickpea. Another idea about the origin of the term is to come from the rash resembling chicken pecks.
Other suggestions include the corruption of itching-pox because after the red spots appear on a human's body, they immediately fill-up with liquid-filled blisters that are called vesicles, which release chemicals in skin and activate the nerves that make a person itch. Others suggest that the term was selected due to the chicken designation for a child (literally "child pox"). Some say that the virus may have originated in chickens.
Interestingly, until the late 19th century, the chickenpox infection was not separated from smallpox. In 1888, the connection between Chickenpox and shingles was determined. In 1658, the first documented use of the term "chickenpox" was announced. Once the term was known to the public, multiple explanations have been suggested and added for the use of "chicken" in the primary name, one being the corresponding mildness of the disease.