Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection in which a person develops extremely itchy blisters all over the body and it is common childhood disease caused by a virus in the herpes family of viruses called the varicella virus. The varicella virus can remain in the body for decades and become active again in adults, causing herpes zoster (shingles). Shingles involves the occurrence of painful skin sores along the distribution of nerves across the trunk or face.
Itchy blisters on a red base, progressing to scabs, appear along with newer blisters, mainly on the trunk, face, and scalp and last 5 to 10 days. Other symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness and loss of appetite.
Chickenpox vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing the disease. Most people who get the vaccine will not get chickenpox. If a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it is usually mild—with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. The chickenpox vaccine prevents almost all cases of severe disease.
In 2010 a total of 592,681 varicella cases was reported from 18 countries that provided epidemiological data based on mandatory notification systems covering the total country population (table 1). The incidence category of reported varicella cases per 100,000 inhabitants is shown in figure 1. The highest incidences were reported from Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia and Slovenia with 481, 459, 458 and 444 cases per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively. The countries which contributed the most in terms of cases were Poland (n= 183,446), Spain (n=157,222) and Czech Republic (n= 48,270), contributing respectively to the 31%, 27% and 8% of all cases reported in 2010.