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What is Chickenpox?
Chickenpox is a normal childhood illness that has been around for centuries. It is considered to be a highly contagious viral infection especially in children. The outward signs of chickenpox are an itchy, blister-like rash (pox) that can be anywhere on the body usually starting on the stomach, back or scalp. It is accompanied by a low-grade fever and tiredness and may include nausea, loss of appetite, headache and/or sore throat. Ninety percent of all cases occur in children younger than ten. Though most common in children, adults are also susceptible if they have never had chickenpox as a child. Once a person has the natural infection, they will usually develop life-long immunity.
Chickenpox Virus (Varicella-zoster)
Chickenpox is caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Varicella is a member of the herpes family, and like all herpes viruses, stays in the body for life once acquired. The immune system keeps the virus at bay, but it can be reactivated later in life when under stress and cause a different form of the viral infection called “shingles.” There is no way of telling if a person will eventually have the shingles.
History of Chickenpox
In the late 800s/early 900s AD, Persian scientist Muhammad ibn Zakariya ar-Razi first identified the chickenpox virus. In the 1500s, Italian Giovanni Filippo provided additional detailed information on the infection. Chickenpox was first considered a mild form of small pox (which it is not) as it is very similar, as is measles. “Chickenpox” literally means itching chickpeas, describing the irritation and size of the blisters on the skin.
How Does Chickenpox Spread
The virus can be spread from person to person by direct contact with fluid from the blisters or with secretions from the respiratory tract or by handling an infected person’s clothing or bedding. Airborne transmission is possible through sneezing coughing, or sharing food or drinks. The reason it is virtually impossible being exposed to chicken pox is because a person infected with chickenpox can spread the virus even before getting any symptoms. Chickenpox is contagious from two to three days before the rash appears until all the blisters have crusted over.
Duration of Illness
Other illnesses can have symptoms like those of chickenpox, but until the rash comes out, it is impossible to diagnosis. The chickenpox rash appears 1 or 2 days after the first symptoms start, yet some may get the rash without having early symptoms. The chickenpox rash can appear in three or more successive waves. The rash is the final stage of the illness and is the body “shedding” the infection and will last for 7-14 days. Some children have a strong immune reaction and get covered from head to toe with the blisters and yet, some children only get a few dozen blisters. The blisters, however, can form over the entire body including in the mouth, ears and in the genital areas. Scratching the blisters to the point of opening the sores, may cause further spreading of the rash and can cause scarring. The chickenpox rash can appear in three or more successive waves. Eventually, the blisters crust over, which is a sign that the immune system has effectively eliminated and dealt with the infection effectively.
Though the chickenpox virus is not usually serious and actually helps develop immunity, the immune system must be healthy to fight off infection. Thus, in most cases, chickenpox will run its course at home with no medical treatment. Warm Oatmeal baths and anti-itching creams are often used to make the person more comfortable. The whole infection will run its course between 10 and 21 days, from initial infection to the blisters crusting over.
The chickenpox illness has many potential symptoms but usually begins with a headache, fever and sore throat. Then, approximately 1-2 days later, the chickenpox rash first appears on the trunk, face, and scalp, although some get the rash without the early symptoms. These blisters can spread over the entire body, causing between 250 and 500 itchy spots. This is followed by myalgia and a raised body temperature from 38 °C (100 °F) to 42 °C (108 °F) in rare cases. The red spots that make up the rash have a 1-2 day cycle that includes blistering, bursting, drying, and crusting over. New red spots will appear every day for up to 5 to 7 days. Other common symptoms include itching, pain in both ears, nausea, head pressure, swollen face, lower back pains, and loss of appetite.
The varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes chickenpox and is part of the herpes virus class. As a highly contagious viral infection, it is quite easy to become exposed to chickenpox. An infected person can spread the virus even before symptoms appear. Chickenpox is most contagious a few days before the rash appears until the blisters have crusted over, normally about seven to ten days later.
How is it Contracted
A person with chickenpox can spread the virus even before noticing any symptoms. Direct contact with an infected person, through the air; by sneezing or coughing, sharing food or a drink, contact with an infected person’s clothing or bedding are ways the virus may spread. Less likely is to contract chickenpox through touching fluid from an open blister.
The virus enters the body through the mucus membranes of the mouth and nose or through broken skin. It then travels through the bloodstream, attaching to host cells in the nose and lymph nodes, where it quickly reproduces. After reproduction of the virus, the immune system gets involved and within a few days, the skin will show infection by the itchy, red, bumpy rash.
Normal Childhood Illness
Chickenpox is considered a childhood illness because most children will contract it before the age of ten. Because most young children attend school and are very sociable with other children, it is no surprise that chickenpox runs in cycles. However, those who have never had the virus are easily susceptible no matter their age. By the time a person reaches the teen years, most likely they have been exposed to chickenpox. For a person to not be exposed they would have to live in an area of the country where they are isolated from other children and people.
Who is at Risk from Chickenpox
People who received the Prevnar Chickenpox vaccine may be at risk during the teen years or early adulthood due to the fact that the vaccine efficacy wears off. It does not provide long-term immunity. Adults who never got wild chicken pox who are fighting cancer or another disease causing a weak immune system, those taking steroids and infants younger than 1 year of age run the risk of complications from chickenpox. This at-risk group typically has a weak immune system caused by age, other reasons.
If a pregnant woman, who does not have natural immunity, gets the virus, she can give it to her unborn child as well. The first symptoms of chickenpox are a fever, headache and/or sore throat. Additional symptoms include loss of appetite, nausea and lethargy. The itchy, red rash usually appears about one or two days after the first symptoms are noticed. Some children may get the rash without having early symptoms; whereas adults may get a fever preceding the rash. Much of this depends on how your immune system is functioning.
It takes about 2 weeks for the symptoms of chickenpox to appear, including the body rash and then it begins to dry up and go away. Stages of the rash include blistering, bursting, drying and finally crusting over. New red bumps will appear every day for about one week. After all the blisters have crusted over, a person is usually no longer contagious.
Chickenpox is a common childhood illness that is more of an inconvenience than anything! The treatment will vary depending on the severity but usually does not require any medical attention. The worse symptom is usually the itchy, raised red blister rash that identifies that it is chickenpox and is the final stage of the illness referred to the “shedding” process. The symptoms may include fever, headache, sore throat, lethargy, loss of appetite and/or nausea. The rash will occur in three stages: the bumpy red rash appears on the skin; the blisters become filled with fluid; and the blisters harden and crust over in the final stage.
Treatment at Home
A healthy immune system is necessary to treat chickenpox without medical intervention. Most healthy children and adults need only natural, at-home remedies to treat the virus. Home treatment may include resting, drinking fluids for fever, taking medicine to reduce fever and anti-itching cream such as Calamine lotion or any over-the-counter product to reduce itching caused by the rash. Soaking in an oatmeal bath, or a bath with baking soda, can soothe the skin and alleviate itching too and will actually help bring the rash out. Children will want to scratch the rash, but scratching can aggravate the rash and lead to spreading the rash or chicken pox scars. If the child is young, putting mittens on a child’s hands can help deter them from scratching.
Normal Immune System
The fever that normally accompanies chickenpox is assisting in the immune system reaction and helping the body to process the infection effectively. The fever will fluctuate between 99 – 105 degrees depending on the child’s immune reaction and immune maturity. As with all fevers, hydration is very important. Be sure that the child gets lots of liquids, diluted juices, herbal teas that calm and relax and also teas that are high in anti-oxidants will help promote the immune system. If the child is uncomfortable, a warm bath to hydrate or a simple cool compress applied to the forehead can provide relief.
Currently the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Recommend the use of Tylenol and other fever reducers when fighting infections like chickenpox. There has been no toxicology studies done until recently, on the toxic effects of the Acetaminophen (active ingredient) found in many over-the-counter (OTC) fever reducers. The most common and widely used fever reducer medication in both children and adults is Tylenol. On January 11, 2012, Dr. William Shaw conducted an educational webinar showing the negative side effects of using fever reducers containing Acetaminophen.
The information presented about the use of Acetaminophen as a fever reducer was over-whelming and was scientifically proven to:
- Shut down the four metabolic pathways of detoxification in the brain making it impossible for the brain to detoxify.
- Interrupts the mitochondria (energy production) function in the cells.
- Inhibits white blood cell formation (infection fighting immune cells).
- Even in the recommended doses considered safe for children and adults, (5-15 ML) Adults (250 – 650 MG) the injury to the brain was evident.
Acetaminophen is the #1 cause of liver failure and liver disease in the USA and the #1 emergency visit liver complaints. Dr. William Shaw did not see the same results with Ibuprofen or aspirins. The use of fever reducers is a personal decision and I encourage you to do your research! Unfortunately, we are not given enough information on common medications recommended and therefore, we really do not know the full consequences of taking them. We are told to “trust” our providers and the drug manufactures that the science has been done to show they are safe.
Treatment for Immune Compromised People
Unfortunately, we now have a whole generation of chronically sick children and adults. Fighting what are considered normal illnesses is more difficult for this group of people. This group includes the elderly who are on many immune system suppression medications, children with asthma, autism, diabetes and various allergies or other long-term diseases or other health problems that weaken the immune system. This group may seek medical attention to help them get through chickenpox such as an antiviral medication or an antihistamine to control severe itching if at-home remedies are not working. Seeking medical attention can help guide a person toward appropriate care for that person’s unique situation.
As there is no cure for chickenpox, the treatments named above provide relief from the symptoms and do not cure the condition. Natural, home remedies for chickenpox provide non-invasive care and provide virtually no health risks.
Chickenpox has been around for centuries and will continue to circulate the globe. The first big question is: Can you really avoid exposure and the illness? Because we live in big cities, can travel from coast-to-coast in a few hours and are exposed to people from around the world, there is absolutely no way of avoiding exposure. It may be the child sitting next to you in church, on a train or at the playground that is contagious; you have no way of knowing. Because it can take up to 10 days for the symptoms to appear, you just never know who is contagious. I have already established that the number of children who die from chickenpox (66 per year on average) is insignificant compared to the number of children who suffer with other diseases such as cancer (99.7 per year).
Is it really a disease we need to prevent? There are those in the vaccine world that would have you believe that the best way to prevent the illness is through the Varicella vaccine. They recommend that if 90 percent of the children get the vaccine it will provide herd immunity, resulting in fewer incidences. This brings up two parts of this claim that need to be examined in order to be true.
Prevention Through Vaccinations
There have been issues with the vaccine efficacy. I have found through research that even in highly vaccinated populations, there are major outbreaks of chickenpox. In 1987, before the first Varicella vaccine was approved, children were getting many other vaccines. The New England Journal of Medicine (Vol.316, No. 13) reported that in1985, Texas had an outbreak of chickenpox and 99 percent of the children were vaccinated. The red flag: Perhaps giving children vaccines was suppressing the immune system, making them more vulnerable to other infections! Again, reported in Pediatrics 2004 (Vol. 113; No3), Oregon had a huge outbreak of chickenpox in 2001. This was after the live-viral Varicella vaccine was approved and added to the mandated vaccine program, and 97 percent of the children who got chickenpox were fully vaccinated. This proves that the vaccine does not protect and can, in fact, cause the illness. In the media they often blame the “un-vaccinated” for the outbreaks!
Current Varicella Vaccine Recommendations
The first vaccine for chickenpox was licensed in 1995 and is still currently used. It is approved for use in most children 12 months or older and can be given to teenagers and adults who have no history of chickenpox. It used to be a single vaccine but is now combined with the Measles and Mumps vaccine (MMR). Medical doctors now recommend that all children be vaccinated against chickenpox between 12 and 18 months of age. Because of efficacy issues with the vaccine, authorities are considering a second dose for all children. The vaccine is recommended when someone who has never had the disease or vaccine and has been exposed to someone with chickenpox.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 80 to 90 percent of people who get vaccinated with one dose of the MMR vaccine are protected from chickenpox, but that theory is being challenged. Because of large outbreaks in populations where vaccine coverage is very good, the efficacy of the vaccine is in question. Antibody production to infectious illnesses involves multiple exposures and many people do not respond to the vaccine the first time. If you get the Varicella vaccine and never had the “wild” virus or illness, you do not have lifelong immunity and will need a booster vaccine down the road. A second dose of the vaccine is recommended later in life by the CDC in order to prevent immunity from fading.
If a person at high risk for complications is exposed to someone with chickenpox, an injection of varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG) may help to prevent chickenpox. VZIG contains protective antibodies against chickenpox taken from the blood of healthy people who have high levels of protection against the virus or someone who is infected.
Note: VZIG is not given unless a person at risk of serious complications has been exposed to someone with the virus for more than one hour. Because the virus is taken from an active, infected person and is hard to get, it is not often recommended.
The more I learn about natural immunity, the more I realize that vaccines drive immunity to the wrong direction and offer no protection. I find evidence that the vaccine may suppress the expression of the illness in many children, which is completely unnatural; but for many, it produces the disease.
Our bodies will normally be able to fight off infection of a virus; and severe complications from the Varicella-zoster virus, which causes chickenpox, are rare. The virus may reactivate if the body’s immune system is weakened, however. This can happen from stress, severe illness or by medications that weaken the immune system. The most common reason for the virus to reactivate is aging. Reactivation of the virus may cause shingles as an adult. There are always going to be risks for those with weaker immune systems including newborns, teens, pregnant women, adults and the elderly, but the focus should be to strengthen the immune system in this group of people.
It is up to each individual if he/she wants to take give their children the vaccine or take their chances with the natural infection. There are many home remedies to treat the symptoms of chickenpox and help children get through the process and the life-long immunity is a huge benefit. I discuss the risks v/s benefits in other papers related to the chickenpox vaccine. Remember, the best way to prevent illnesses is to focus on promoting natural immunity and building health.
Chickenpox is considered one of the normal childhood illnesses that most people born between the 1930s to 1960s got when they were little children usually before the age of 10. Those who got the wild chickenpox infection as children, now have lifelong immunity. What was once considered a deadly disease for many people in the mid-1800s to early 1900s is now considered more of an inconvenience for the family because more mothers are in the workplace. Due to improved sanitation, improved nutrition and clean water across the United States and Europe, chickenpox is not life-threatening for most. These improvements, which started in the 1920s in this country and completed across the country by the 1960s, helped people to build stronger immune systems. This lead to adaption to the virus, making it less of a public health problem. This is also when vaccine manufactures were just starting to ramp up the development of vaccines with a chickenpox vaccine in the forecast.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who has not had the virus or been exposed to wild chickenpox is at risk after being exposed to an infected person. The symptoms — an itchy, red rash, fever, headache, and sometimes lethargy and lack of appetite — pose more irritating than dangerous.
Origin of the Vaccine
Prior to 1990, approximately 47 to 138 people died each year from wild chickenpox illness. The first vaccine was available in the 1970s but authorities were reluctant to recommend it, as the disease is rarely dangerous and results in lifelong immunity. It was, however, offered to people and given if requested. It was originally developed for children with leukemia or weak immune systems. Back in 1985, the CDC did not believe the treatment for chickenpox warranted a national vaccine program. A few years later authorities decided that it would be cost effective, because working mothers would miss work to take care of their sick children!
The Verivax vaccine made by Merck and approved for use in 1995 is a live viral vaccine obtained from a child with natural Varicella virus and grown on aborted baby lung tissue as well as other animal tissues. Within 3 years of releasing the vaccine, 6,500 reports of adverse events were reported and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). They reported that out of every 100,000 there were 67.5 serious adverse events reported. (“Serious” meaning death, life threatening, hospitalization …) Please see the paper on “Dangers of the Varicella Vaccine” for more details.
Mandating Vaccinations for Children
Before the chickenpox vaccine was approved for mass use in 1995, it is documented that between 1990 and 1998, 1,465 people died from the disease, averaging to 184 people per year. About 4 million people contracted the virus every year, with more than 80 percent being children by 10 years of age. Of this number, about 10,600 people were hospitalized. In 1995, the chickenpox vaccine was recommended for universal use all children; and by 2001, chickenpox deaths dropped to 66 deaths per year. We now have a universal chickenpox vaccine mandated for every child, and CDC are encouraging senior citizens and people who got the vaccine to get re-vaccinated with the Varicella Vaccine.
Currently, 40 percent of deaths occur in children younger than 10, and 55 percent of deaths occur in adults 20 and older.
Complications can be Life Threatening
Complications of chickenpox happen most often in adults and very young children but can happen at any age, and can be life threatening: Death, brain damage, pneumonia, dehydration, bleeding problems, bacterial infection, bone or joint infection, and birth defects can occur in people who are immune compromised or already fighting an illness. The virus can also reactivate in adults and lead to shingles later in life.
Close contact Increases Risk
If you live with a person who has the virus, or are in close contact for more than 1 hour, the likelihood of contracting chickenpox increases. If you live in a large city, visit the grocery store, go to church, take children to parks or if children attend school, most likely you and your children will be exposed many times. Those at a higher risk of complications include pregnant women, newborns, teenagers, adults and people with a weak immune system. In rare cases, adults who contract chickenpox may also have serious complications, such as pneumonia.
Lifelong Immunity is Likely after Contraction
Almost everyone gets chickenpox by adulthood. Most cases in the United States occur in the late winter and spring. After getting chickenpox most people do become immune to the virus. It is possible to get a small reaction after re-exposure, such as a few spots and a slight fever.
Chickenpox Vaccine does not Guarantee Protection
Though death rates from chickenpox have declined since the vaccine, the vaccine will not guarantee protection from the virus. We have seen outbreaks of chickenpox in highly vaccinated populations where 80-99 percent of outbreaks are in the vaccinated.
Most children and adults with a healthy immune system do not develop complications from chickenpox. Watching the infected person and treating the symptoms with home remedies is usually enough to see the virus runs its course, about 7 to 21 days from infection to blisters drying and crusting over. Seeking a doctor’s advice may be necessary for young children, those in the high-risk category, or if symptoms seem to persist longer than or differ from the norm.
Does death from an illness at the rate of 138 people per year justify a mandated vaccine for every person in America? Does it also warrant laws and schools forcing and harassing parents who choose to not vaccinate, treating them like they are irresponsible and negligent parents, claiming they are putting their children at risk and others in harm’s way? We will always have people in our society who are genetically weak and will not thrive! In nature, animals that are weak naturally die, ensuring a strong genetic pool for future generations – survival of the fittest.
Please understand, I am for protection and freedom for ALL individuals. I am not trying to sound unsympathetic to children who are born weak, but I do not believe that we should continue to promote a mass-vaccine policy, forcing all to be vaccinated for the few who may get an illness and perish. We have many ways to help support the weaker people in society with medication and drugs to help them get through the illness…ultimately, some will die.
For those who say that the un-vaccinated put others at risk, if they are vaccinated then what is the risk for them or their children? Based on my research of the statistic in mortality from chickenpox and my research on the chickenpox vaccine (Varicella), I now believe that the illness carries less risk for most people than the vaccine made to prevent it!