It is quite likely that at some point during your childhood, you were affected by chicken pox. This is because this disease is quite common among children, but very rare in adults. When it comes to the triggers, the Varicella-Zoster virus (VZV) ranks high as one of the foremost chicken pox causes.
It should be noted, though, that once you are affected by chicken pox as a child, the immunity that your body develops against the chicken pox virus can last a whole lifetime.
In some cases, even though the clinical symptoms of chicken pox vanish with time, the virus itself stays dormant in the nerves of the infected person.
When reactivated years later, if the immune system is compromised either by medication, illness, malnutrition, or naturally with aging, the virus causes shingles or Herpes Zoster in that person.
Chicken Pox Causes – The Primary Triggers
Chicken pox is a very contagious infection, and it is transmitted due to these chicken pox causes:
Chicken pox is an airborne disease. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, droplets called bioaerosols are expelled from his nose and mouth. These droplets transmit the chicken pox virus through the air, causing the disease to spread from person to person.
Sharing Objects Used By An Infected Person
The airborne particles (bioaerosols) can stay suspended in the air for several minutes, and sometimes even for several hours. They settle on objects such as utensils, clothes, bedding, or children’s toys. Anyone who comes in contact with any of these objects is at a risk of catching the infection.
Direct Contact With An Infected Person
You could contract chicken pox if you come in direct contact with the characteristic skin rash on the infected person’s body, especially with the fluid in the blisters on his skin.
A person with chicken pox is infectious from 2 days prior to the appearance of the rash till the rash forms dry crusts and scabs over. This process lasts for about 5 to 6 days after the rash has set in.
That’s why it is important that in order to prevent the spread of chicken pox, the patient must stay indoors, preferably in isolation, till the skin rash has crusted entirely. You can also follow some chicken pox prevention measures.
Risk Factors For Chicken Pox
The following individuals are susceptible to the disease:
- Pregnant women
- People with weakened immune systems (People with HIV/AIDS or cancer)
- People who have had organ transplants
A Look Behind The Chicken Pox Causes – How The Virus Works
VZV is capable of infecting and growing in different types of cells within the body, including blood cells, skin cells, and nerve cells. VZV infections are of two types:
Chicken Pox Infection:
The virus enters the body through the nasopharynx and first infects the respiratory tract. It then moves to the lymph nodes and travels to the bloodstream. From there, it moves to organs like the liver and the spleen, and finally reaches the skin. Here, it breaks out in the form of a rash marked by red spots and fluid-filled blisters.
Shingles or Herpes Zoster Infection:
When a person is infected with chicken pox and subsequently recovers, the body’s immune system eliminates the virus. But sometimes, the virus manages to lay dormant in the nerves.
In adults who are over 60 years of age, when the immune response tends to deteriorate, the dormant virus can get reactivated. When this happens, it travels down the nerve to the skin, causing a very painful rash around the specific area supplied by that nerve, a typical sign of shingles.
As chicken pox causes take advantage of the disease’s highly contagious nature, it is best to keep the infected person in maximum isolation till the danger of the disease’s spread has been nullified. It is important to be aware of the different causes of chicken pox in order to prevent the disease.