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Varicella (Chickenpox)

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Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. The rash appears first on the stomach, back and face and can spread over the entire body causing between 250 and 500 itchy blisters. Chickenpox can be serious, especially in babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine.

  • Symptoms
  • Transmission
  • Prevention

Symptoms include:

  • Blister-like rash
  • Fever that lasts about 4 to 6 days
  • Itching
  • Tiredness

Certain groups of people are more likely to have more severe illness with serious complications. These include adult, infants, adolescents, pregnant women, and people have a weakened immune system. If anyone develops symptoms that look like chickenpox, contact your health care provider.

It is spread from person to person by direct contact or through the air from an infected person’s coughing and sneezing. Chickenpox can be spread for 1-2 days before rash starts and until all blisters are crusted or no new lesions appear within a 24-hour period. It takes between 10-21 days after contact with an infected person for someone to develop chickenpox.  

If I have been vaccinated, can I still get chickenpox?
Yes. About 15%–20% of people who have received one dose of chickenpox vaccine do still get chickenpox if they are exposed, but their disease is usually mild.   Two doses of varicella vaccine are now routinely recommended. The first dose can be given at 12 months of age and the second dose between 4-6 years of age.

Varicella Surveillance Summary

November 2017

State varicella activity:

Varicella Surveillance Map
  • Sixty confirmed and probable varicella cases were reported among 21 counties
    in November.
  • Reported varicella cases are starting to increase after having remained lower
    throughout the summer and fall. This is consistent with seasonal trends in
    past years.
  • Since January 1, 2017, 594 cases of varicella were reported among 52 of Florida’s 67 counties.
  • A decreasing trend in the number of confirmed and probable cases of varicella reported annually in Florida was observed from 2008-2014. Since then, the number of cases reported annually has remained elevated. Thus far in 2017, the number of varicella cases is slightly lower than the number observed in 2016.
  • One outbreak of varicella was reported in November among five residents of a mental health hospital in Gadsden County.
  • In November, children age less than one years old had the highest incidence of varicella. This is consistent with what was observed for the majority of months thus far in 2017.
  • Vaccination is the best way to prevent varicella infections. In November, 28 (47%) cases were not up to date on their varicella vaccinations. In general, those who have received at least one varicella vaccination even if they later develop disease have less severe outcomes than those who have never been vaccinated.
  • In November, infants infected with varicella who were too young for vaccination and those with unknown vaccination status were
    most likely to visit the emergency department. Few varicella cases require inpatient hospitalization.
  • To learn more about other, please visit

National varicella activity:

  • Varicella incidence decreased significantly since a vaccine became available in 1995 and has continued to decrease since 2006 when recommendations changed from one to two doses of varicella vaccine.
    • From 2006 –2015 all age groups saw a significant decrease in incidence with the largest decline in children age 5-9 years and age 10-14 years.
  • Although not all states report varicella cases to the CDC, based on available data the number of varicella cases nationally has steadily decreased each year from 2012-2015.

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