Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a highly contagious virus that causes two distinct diseases: chickenpox and shingles. It belongs to the herpesvirus family, which also includes herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), among others.
Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a common childhood illness that is usually mild, but can sometimes lead to serious complications, especially in people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of chickenpox include a rash of itchy, fluid-filled blisters, fever, and general malaise.
After an initial infection with VZV, the virus can remain dormant in the body for years, and then reactivate later in life, causing shingles (also known as herpes zoster). Shingles is a painful rash that usually develops on one side of the body, often on the trunk, but it can also occur on the face, eyes, and other parts of the body. It is most common in people over the age of 50 or those with weakened immune systems.
There is a vaccine available to prevent chickenpox and shingles. Antiviral medications can also help to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms in people with these infections. If you think you may have been exposed to VZV, it is important to contact your healthcare provider right away to discuss prevention and treatment options.
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a virus that causes two distinct illnesses: chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (herpes zoster). It is a member of the herpesviridae family of viruses, which also includes herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), among others.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease that is spread through contact with an infected person’s skin or respiratory secretions. Symptoms of chickenpox include a rash that typically begins on the face and trunk and then spreads to the rest of the body, as well as fever, headache, and fatigue. While chickenpox is usually a mild illness, it can be more serious in people with weakened immune systems or in adults.
After a person recovers from chickenpox, the virus can remain dormant in the nervous system. Later in life, the virus can reactivate and cause shingles, a painful and often debilitating rash that typically occurs on one side of the body. Shingles can also be accompanied by other symptoms, such as fever, headache, and fatigue.
There is a vaccine available to prevent chickenpox, as well as a separate vaccine to prevent shingles in adults. Antiviral medications can also be used to treat both chickenpox and shingles, particularly in people who are at higher risk of complications.