Chickenpox – Congo The Democratic Republic Of The

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There are 28 cases of chickenpox in the Kasai province of Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Majority of the cases are people aged 15 to 25. Local health officials have encouraged the population to practice proper hygiene measures to control the spread of the disease.

Photo: Electron micrograph of a Human alphaherpesvirus 3 virus, also known as varicella-zoster virus.

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a highly contagious disease caused by infection with varicella zoster virus. Chickenpox occurs in all parts of the world.

The disease results in a characteristic skin rash that forms small, itchy blisters, which eventually scab over. Initially on the chest, back, and face. Later it then spreads to the rest of the body. Other symptoms are flu like with fever and tiredness.

Complications may occasionally occur and include pneumonia, inflammation of the brain, and bacterial skin infections. The disease is often more severe in adults than in children.

Chickenpox is an airborne disease which spreads easily from one person to the next through the coughs and sneezes of an infected person. It may even be spread from one to two days before the rash appears. People usually only get chickenpox once.

A vaccine is recommended in many countries for children and protects about 70 to 90 percent of people from disease with a good protection for severe disease. Some parents deliberately expose their children to the virus, by taking them to chickenpox parties. Getting the vaccine is much safer, since it is a weakened form of the virus. An actual chickenpox infection can be fatal.

How the term chickenpox originated is not clear but it may be due the rash resembling chicken pecks or the idea that the disease may have originated in chickens.

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