Chickenpox On A Lollipop

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Recently, a social phenomenon known as a “pox party” has started to gain traction in the general public in the U.S. A “pox party” is a party held by parents for the purpose of infecting their children with childhood diseases, including chickenpox. Similar ideas were associated with other diseases, e.g. measles or smallpox, but are now discouraged by doctors and health services due to the risk of serious injury or death from acquiring the disease. What logic drives these “pox parties?” The reasoning behind such parties is that party guests exposed to the varicella virus will contract the disease and develop strong and persistent immunity at an early age, before getting really sick later, particularly from chickenpox or rubella. This is, of course, irrational and lunatic.

Frequently, this initial episode of chickenpox occurs in childhood. Additionally, however, a common late complication of chickenpox is shingles, caused by reactivation of the Varicella Zoster virus, sometimes occurring decades after the initial episode of chickenpox. Finally, in a small fraction of shingles cases, post-herpetic neuralgia can develop, mainly in the elderly, which is extremely painful and very troublesome to handle.

In 1974, in a stunning medical advance, a chickenpox vaccine for was developed by Michiaki Takahashi. The Varicella vaccine is an attenuated live virus that protects against the VZV viral disease. Adopted first in 1988 in Japan, it has been available in the U.S. since 1995 to inoculate against chickenpox. Protection from one dose is not lifelong, and a second dose is necessary five years after the initial immunization, which is currently part of the routine immunization schedule in the US. Chickenpox vaccine is marketed under the name “Varivax” in the U.S. by Merck.

Chickenpox is an airborne disease spread easily through coughing or sneezing of infected individuals, or by direct contact with secretions from the rash on an infected individual. A person with chickenpox is infectious one to two days before the rash appears. The contagious period then continues for 4 to 5 days after the appearance of the rash, or until all lesions have crusted over. Research has shown that chickenpox is caused by the Varicella Zoster Virus (VZV), a herpes virus.

Frequently, this initial episode of chickenpox occurs in childhood. Additionally, however, a common late complication of chickenpox is shingles, caused by reactivation of the Varicella Zoster virus, sometimes occurring decades after the initial episode of chickenpox. Finally, in a small fraction of shingles cases, post-herpetic neuralgia can develop, mainly in the elderly, which is extremely painful and very troublesome to handle.

Frequently, this initial episode of chickenpox occurs in childhood. Additionally, however, a common late complication of chickenpox is shingles, caused by reactivation of the Varicella Zoster virus, sometimes occurring decades after the initial episode of chickenpox. Finally, in a small fraction of shingles cases, post-herpetic neuralgia can develop, mainly in the elderly, which is extremely painful and very troublesome to handle.

This vaccine is exceedingly safe: approximately 5% of children who receive the vaccine develop a fever or rash, but as of 2006, there have been NO DEATHS yet attributable to the vaccine, despite more than 40 million doses being administered. Compare this with 100 deaths PER YEAR before the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine. According to the CDC, before the vaccine, 11,000 people were hospitalized each year from chickenpox. This vaccine is a remarkable medical advance, which promises to lift this scourge permanently from mankind.

This vaccine is exceedingly safe: approximately 5% of children who receive the vaccine develop a fever or rash, but as of 2006, there have been NO DEATHS yet attributable to the vaccine, despite more than 40 million doses being administered. Compare this with 100 deaths PER YEAR before the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine. According to the CDC, before the vaccine, 11,000 people were hospitalized each year from chickenpox. This vaccine is a remarkable medical advance, which promises to lift this scourge permanently from mankind.

This much is known about how to contain chickenpox, using the chickenpox vaccine. Varivax is a tried and proven vaccine, and given routinely and effectively every year to millions of children and adults. There’s additionally a final reason for kids to get the chickenpox vaccine: prevent shingles. The chickenpox virus is a herpes virus that stays in the body for life. And, when VZV gets reactivated, a person gets shingles, and possibly post-herpetic neuralgia as a complication. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that childhood chickenpox vaccination prevents adult shingles.

The Internet is intensifying this irrational phenomenon. Some Facebook pages are advertising “Find a Pox Party Near You.” Parents can join a Facebook group and can either link up with those holding a “pox party” or arrange to purchase a chickenpox-infected lollipop.

The only possible reason to attend a “pox party” or purchase a chickenpox lollipop is a belief that all government-sanctioned vaccines are a plot to conduct some evil purpose. People who believe in these alternatives are either extremely paranoid about government intentions or just plain irrational. The title refers to 1348 AD, the year the Black Death arrived in Europe.

We live in a golden age of mankind, where the scourge of varicella Zoster virus is finally being eradicated. This virus has be-deviled mankind for hundreds of thousands of years. To stray away from a brilliant advance in chickenpox treatment is just plain wrong-headed and counter-productive. Worse, parents who participate in a “pox party” are potentially subjecting their children to serious medical harm.

Click here to learn more about Chickenpox and ( Shingles Treatment ), and how to protect yourself from these virus-borne diseases.

  

   

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