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Essay: Chicken pox (Varicella Zoster)

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  • Subject area(s): Health essays
  • Reading time: 3 minutes
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  • Published: 11 October 2015*
  • File format: Text
  • Words: 747 (approx)
  • Number of pages: 3 (approx)

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Chicken pox is a disease that is caused by a virus named ‘Varicella ‘ Zoster’. The vectors involved are not many; since this virus is host’specific, it only spreads to the same species of host organisms. For example, if a human had it, another human will get it. Once a person has chicken pox, when they are adults (past their adolescent stage,) they have a high chance of contracting shingles. Sometimes, you can have a bad reaction to the virus, and have trouble breathing. If you get a vaccination for it, the likeliness that you will get chicken pox is decreased drastically. Chicken Pox can be passed on to someone, by any form of contact. For example, if you’re coughed on, or have any contact with a person with chicken pox, and you haven’t gotten it already, there is a chance you catching chicken pox.
The history and beliefs of the virus’ origin is that Giovanni Filippo found the disease. Also, it was believed to have been named ‘Chicken Pox’ because Richard Morton thought it was similar to smallpox. In the 18th century, William Heberdon found out that it was not similar to smallpox. This all happened between the 16th ‘ 18th century.
There is currently no treatment against chicken pox in the UK, so the only option to avoid getting chicken pox is to be vaccinated. For example, health workers, since they work around many people, and there may be a chance of it being spread, are often vaccinated against chicken pox. However, there is an immunization against the virus in the USA and Canada, since it is very common for children. Another treatment is also not scratching, since there will be scars left, that don’t go away. Scratching also increases the risk of infection, which is a serious side effect of this disease. A treatment can also be some calamine lotion to sooth the skin, and decrease the need of scratching, which is another problem. Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, are also an option, so the person with chicken pox can sleep without the need to itch.
In Canada, there has been new research to prove how a vaccine for measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella has now a slight chance of giving children febrile-like seizures. Before, there was a vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella combined, but they recently added varicella to the combination, which is quite a risky immunization.
Shingles is an infection of a nerve, and the skin surrounding it. About 1 in 3 people with chicken pox have a chance of getting shingles. It occurs after chicken pox, when the remains of the Varicella ‘ Zoster virus multiplies in your body, and travels along the skin, and is sometimes caused by stress. Shingles is least common in youth and adolescents, and in people with strong immune systems. It is also common for young people with weakened immune systems, who also may have HIV/AIDs or chemotherapy. It is caused by the same virus from chicken pox, since it’s mainly passed on to people who already had chicken pox. Shingles is not contagious, although, the varicella ‘ zoster virus can be passed onto a person who has never had chicken pox before, and cause them to develop shingles.
There are a few treatments for shingles, calamine lotion to soothe the itch, and anything that can keep the rash dry and clean, so it can’t get infected. These are treatments for when the patient is at home, but if it’s starting to hurt, then they will need prescribed painkillers, such as Acetaminophen.
A new drug has recently been discovered that can treat chronic pain caused by shingles. Spinifex Pharmaceuticals owns this drug, and they want to try and make another drug that lasts longer. They are now trying to develop the drug further to treat neuropathic pains as well, which is one of the biggest side effects of shingles.
The history of the identification of shingles as a widespread disease is a complicated one. Shingles has existed since the Middle Ages, and in the 1700’s, William Herberden finally discovered the difference between shingles and smallpox. In 1831, a scientist named Richard Bright first talked about shingles, because he thought that it was carried by the spinal ganglion. Until the 1950’s, they thought shingles was painless, until they realized the symptoms and effects of the disease. In 2005, scientists created a drug called Zostavax, to fight shingles, which they found actually helped alleviate the symptoms of shingles.

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