The Epidemiology of Chickenpox
The Epidemiology of Chickenpox
Epidemiology can be defined as the study of health patterns and causes within a given population. The nursing field that works with these populations to identify causes and preventative measures is known as public health nursing or community nursing. These nurses seek to identify specific data that help a targeted population deal with the incidence and prevalence of certain conditions (Mauer, Smith, F, 2013). Just like any other disease, chickenpox has its own unique epidemiology, which will be explained in further detail throughout this paper. The epidemiologic triangle is applied to chickenpox as well. With the ...view middle of the document...
Immunity is established after having chickenpox, and usually lasts throughout the lifetime (CDC, 2011). While getting chickenpox for a second time is rare, the varicella zoster virus can again become active and when it does it is known as shingles. Therefore, persons who have not yet had chickenpox may acquire the disease from a person who has shingles.
Once the blisters have crusted over and dried out, the person is generally considered no longer contagious. Incubation is generally cited as 1 ½ to 3 weeks, with the patient being considered contagious 5 days prior to the signs of rash (CDC, 2011). The mode of transmission for chickenpox is either air transmission or direct contact. For example, if a person recently sneezed and a susceptible person inhaled the virus, they are most likely to acquire chickenpox. A person may also acquire the illness by direct contact with sputum or fluid from the blisters of a patient. Since the patient is contagious prior to obvious symptoms, any recent contact with persons should be taken into account so these patients may take the appropriate precautions.
Some illnesses may cause a patient to obtain severe symptoms from having chickenpox. These include cancer patients and AIDS patients and any person who is immune suppressed (MedicineNet, 2013). These complications include infections, pneumonia, encephalitis and sepsis (CDC, 2011). Females who have chickenpox in the third trimester have an higher chance of having a newborn with complications. 30% of infants born to a mother who has contracted chickenpox 5 days prior to birth to 2 days post-delivery die.
Treatment is centered on comfort and controlling symptoms associated with the disease. Generalized body aches and associated fever may be treated with acetaminophen. Pruritus may be alleviated with diphenhydramine and calamine lotion. Medication regimes include acyclovir, which is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Contraindications for taking this medication include corticosteroids (aerosol form) and anyone on a salicylate medication regime. A varicella zoster immunoglobulin called Varizig, is used to treat patients who are at risk for severe complications from chickenpox and are unable to receive the chickenpox vaccine. Varizig has been approved for infants since they are unable to receive the vaccine. Additionally, patients who are immunocompromised are also qualified to receive Varizig. It should be used just post-exposure and used for up to ten days, or however the physician prescribes it.
The average age for acquiring chickenpox is between 5 and 9. Most people have had chickenpox by the age of 15. In the mid-90’s, 6 was the average age of the chickenpox patient. 10 years later, the age had increased to 19. In the mid-2000’s, chickenpox had a trend upward with prevalence among immunized populations, and the vaccine regime was changed from a single dose vaccine to 2 a dose regime. Within the last decade,...