Chickenpox is a highly communicable virus named the varicella-zoster virus and closely resembles the herpes virus. The virus can be released into the air by coughing or sneezing, spreading the virus from person to person. The virus also can be spread by touching the fluids from a chickenpox blister. Chickenpox is so contagious that an individual who has never had exposure to chickenpox has an 80% chance of obtaining the disease when in close contact with an infected individual.
According to Pub Med Health (2009) “Most children with chickenpox act sick, with symptoms such as a fever, headache, tummy ache, or loss of appetite and the average child develops 250 to 500 small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters over red spots on the skin” (p. 1). Only after the chickenpox blisters have formed scabs the individual is no longer contagious. Chickenpox infects people of all ages and races and can produce life threatening side effects. “Each year in the United States, 4,000 to 9,000 persons are hospitalized with chickenpox, and up to 100 persons die. Those at highest risk for complications are newborns, persons with weakened immune systems, and adults” (DHPE, 2010, p. 1). Chickenpox has no known cure.
The varicella-zoster virus remains in the body for life and can induce the disease shingles. Shingles happens fibers making a painful skin rash known as shingles. Complications from chickenpox include sk in infections, encephalitis, and hepatitis. The virus is most dangerous for pregnant women because it can cause stillbirths and even infection of the newborn during birth. Seasons and school sessions along with overcrowding are environmental factors responsible for the spread of the varicella-zoster virus. Environmental Factors Researchers have found that the varicella-zoster virus increases throughout the autumn months and decreases during the summer months.
The virus decreases in the summer because children are out of school decreasing the spread of the virus from child to child. It only takes one child in a classroom to contract Running Head: COMMUNICABLE DISEASE 3 chickenpox for it to spread and cause an epidemic of 90% of children becoming infected (Net Industries, 2011). An overcrowded environment will spread the virus in epidemic proportions. Once infected with the varicella-zoster virus the body is immune to another outbreak. The epidemiology of chickenpox is decreasing dramatically because of vaccinations.
Prevention Before the chickenpox vaccine, children would die from the disease and others would suffer from encephalitis resulting in severe brain damage. Whe n the vaccine was released to the public, it was never meant to prevent chickenpox, only designed to prevent severe symptoms and death. According to the CDC (2011) “The chickenpox vaccine is the best way to prevent chickenpox. Vaccination not only protects vaccinated persons, it also reduces the risk for exposure in the community for persons unable to be vaccinated because of illness or other conditions, including those who may be at greater risk for severe disease” (p. 1).
The chickenpox vaccine has been effective in protecting 11 out of 12 individuals who receive the vaccination. “In the United States, children receive two doses of the varicella vaccine, the first between ages 12 and 15 months and the second between ages 4 and 6 years as part of the routine childhood immunization schedule” (Mayo Clinic, 2010, p. 2). The hope is that chicken pox will be eliminated through vaccines ensuring quality health for everyone. If an individual contracts chickenpox after vaccination the disease is mild and only lasts a few days.
Community Programs Community immunization programs are critical to eliminating the varicella-zoster virus and preventing the spread throughout the community, ensuring quality y health. Community immunization programs are reducing the incidents of the c hickenpox virus and controlling outbreaks that threaten the whole community. Although chickenpox still exists in communities the incidents have been decreasing allowing most Running Head: COMMUNICABLE DISEASE 4 individuals the convenience of not suffering from the affects of this disease. Community programs educate individuals to prevent the spread of chickenpox once infected.
Infected individuals should remain home and avoid exposing others. Public Health Department The public health department investigates infectious diseases and controlling outbreaks to the community. The varicella-zoster virus becomes a public health problem when it induces other diseases including pneumonia, encephalitis, hepatitis, and even death. “Public Health works to prevent and mitigate disease in the population. Cle an drinking water, safe food, and control of disease are public health objectives that ar e always at work. Public health is always preparing for what will come next while also improving health in the present” (Monroe County Health Department, 2009, p. 1).
The public health department works with local physicians in an effort to prevent the spread of communicable diseases including chickenpox. The public health department provides current updated information and assistance to patients unaware of where to obtain the chickenpox vaccine. Education programs are allowing the public to remain up-to- dateon current treatments and prevention methods if infected by the varicella-zoster virus. Disease management is essential in controlling the infection rates of the virus.
Influence of Lifestyle, Socioeconomic Status, and Disease Management Lifestyle choices, such as, diet; exercise, hygiene, and relationships with the medical community will result in less incidence of contracting a communicable disease. Because of a lower socioeconomic status an individual with a communicable disease are less likely to get themedical attention and education required to reduce the spread of the varicella-zoster virus. The public health disease management guidelines require “Physicians, health practitioners and others listed in Section 22 of the Public Health Acts hall notify the MOH (or designate) in Running Head: COMMUNICABLE DISEASE 5 the prescribed form by mail, fax or electronic transfer within 48 hours concerning all confirmed cases of chickenpox” (Alberta Health & Wellness, 2005, p. 1).
Individuals developing the varicella-zoster virus should not return to work or school until all watery- filled blisters have crusted over. Chickenpox is a communicable viral disease that remains in the body for life. The only way to reduce the risk of infection with the varicella-zoster virus is to become vaccinated and not come in contact with an infected individual. An adult is more likely to have complications including death when infected with chickenpox.
When an individual is infected, it is not advisable to leave home until the fluid-filled blisters have crusted over. O nce infection runs its course the body builds up a resistance to the virus. Although as an adult the virus can mutate resulting in a painful zoster virus, shingles. Communities are working with physicians to ensure that the public receives effective education and where to receive the vaccine for chickenpox. The resources in the communities are readily available resulting in no gaps in community services. It is recommended by the medical communitythat an yone who has not been infected by the chickenpox virus become vaccinated thereby ensuring quality health in the community.
Running Head: COMMUNICABLE DISEASE 6 References Alberta Health and Wellness. (2005). Varicella Zoster. Public Health Modifiable Disease Management Guidelines. Retrieved April 10, 2011, from http://www. health. alberta. ca/documents/ND-Varic ella-Zoster. pdf Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC. (2011). Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccination. Retrieved April 10, 2011, from http://www. cdc. gov/vacc ines/vpd- vac/varicella/default. htm#vacc Directors of Health Promotion and Education, DHPE.
(2010). Chickenpox. Retrieved April 10, 2011, from http://www. dhpe. org/infect/Chicken. html Monroe County Health Department. (2009). what is Public He alth? Retrieved April 10, 2011, from http://www. co. monroe. mi. us/government/departments_of fices/public_health/index. html Net Industries. (2011). Chickenpox and Environmental Factors. Ret rieved April 10, 2011, from Running Head: COMMUNICABLE DISEASE 7 http://science. jrank. org/pages/1405/Chickenpox-Chickenpox-environmental-factors. html Pub Med Health. (2009). Varicella; Chicken Pox. Retrieved Apr il 10, 2011, from http://www. ncbi. nlm. nih. gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002559/.