Infectious Diseases

sec_arr Chickenpox

Chickenpox (Varicella Zoster)

General Description: Chickenpox is a vaccine-preventable viral infection. The most common clinical feature is an itchy rash that initially presents as numerous fluid-filled vesicles or bubbles and transitions into a mature raised rash covered by a crusty scab. Adults who catch chickenpox are at risk of viral pneumonia that may require hospitalization. One episode of the natural disease or receiving the vaccination series generally confers immunity. The vaccine has been available for routine immunization since 1995.

Mode of Transmission: Person-to-person via nasopharyngeal respiratory droplets. Direct contact with the vesicular rash may also transmit the virus.

Efficiency of Transmission/Attack Rate: 90% of susceptible individuals who are exposed to an infectious individual will subsequently contract the infection.

Period of Communicability: 1 to 2 days before onset of rash, continuing until all lesions are crusted over.

Effect on LEO Fitness for Duty: Chickenpox can cause a flu-like syndrome. The itchy rash may be distracting. It may be exacerbated by heavy perspiration and the wearing of occlusive clothing and body armor.

LEO-specific Clinical Studies and Reports: Cowan JB, Davis TS. Varicella outbreak among Afghan National Civil Order Police recruits-Heart Regional Military Training Center, Herat, Afghanistan, 2010. Mil Med. 2012;177(8):924-7. PMID: 22934371