Varicella

Chickenpox, also known as varicella, is a very contagious rash illness caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV). VZV stays dormant in the body can reactivate later in life to cause shingles (herpes zoster). Chickenpox causes a fever and an itchy rash that starts on the torso and face and then spreads all over the body. Other symptoms include itchiness and fever. Chickenpox is usually mild but complications can occur. Young infants, people with suppressed immune systems, and people who are pregnant are at risk for severe illness.

This disease spreads easily from infected people to others who have never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine. Chickenpox spreads by touching someone with the rash or through the air. It can also spread by touching clothing or blankets that someone with chickenpox has used. Direct contact with a shingles rash (touching) can also cause chickenpox; visit to the CDC webpage on shingles for more information.

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent chickenpox. Before the vaccine, chickenpox used to be a very common illness among children. Since the vaccine for chickenpox was introduced in the United States in the 1990’s, the number of chickenpox cases, hospitalizations, and deaths has decreased. The number of chickenpox outbreaks nationwide has also gone down since then.

Explore the links below to learn more about chickenpox in Georgia:

Chickenpox Basics

General information about chickenpox including disease description, complications, treatment, and prevention.

  • About Chickenpox
    General information from the CDC about chickenpox, including transmission, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. Also includes photos and kid-friendly fact sheet.

Reporting

  • Reporting Chickenpox
    All individual cases of chickenpox should be reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Find out more about what needs to be reported, who needs to report diseases, which forms to use and where to find out more about the disease.

Chickenpox Vaccine

Getting vaccinated is the best way to prevent chickenpox. Children should get one chickenpox vaccination when they are 12 months old and another when they are four years old. Healthy people 13 years and older who have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated should get two doses of the chickenpox vaccine four to eight weeks apart. More information about chickenpox vaccines can be found below.

  • Chickenpox Vaccine Information Statement (VIS)
    CDC Vaccine Information Statement: includes a description of the disease, who should get the vaccine and when, who should not be vaccinated, and potential side effects. Visit here to find a copy of the Chickenpox VIS in a language other than English.

 Chickenpox Information for Health Professionals

Information on chickenpox for health professionals, including clinical features and epidemiology, how to report cases, vaccine information, and official recommendations.

Clinical Features and Epidemiology

  • Chickenpox Basics
    General information about chickenpox including disease description, complications, treatment and prevention.

Chickenpox Laboratory Testing

Reporting

  • Reporting Chickenpox
    All individual cases of chickenpox should be reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Find out more about what needs to be reported, who needs to report diseases, which forms to use and where to find out more about the disease.

Resources

  •  Chickenpox Vaccine Information Statement (VIS)
    CDC Vaccine Information Statement: includes a description of the disease, who should get the vaccine and when, who should not be vaccinated, and potential side effects. Visit here to find a copy of the Chickenpox VIS in a language other than English.

Chickenpox Information for Schools and Childcare Facilities

Information on chickenpox for school health personnel and those in childcare settings.

 Chickenpox Case Investigations

Reporting

  • Reporting Chickenpox
    All individual cases of chickenpox should be reported to the Georgia Department of Public Health. Find out more about what needs to be reported, who needs to report diseases, which forms to use and where to find out more about the disease.

Resources

Chickenpox Statistics

In July of 2011, individual cases of varicella became reportable in Georgia. Total case counts for varicella in Georgia since 2012 are displayed below. Case counts  include the total number of confirmed and probable varicella cases reported in Georgia residents.

Varicella2012_2018_1.png

Varicella Case Classifications*

  • Probable: A case that meets the clinical case definition, is not laboratory confirmed, and is not epidemiologically linked to another probable or confirmed case**
  • Confirmed: A case that is laboratory confirmed or that meets the clinical case definition and is epidemiologically linked to a confirmed or probable case.

*Cases are designated as confirmed or probable by the Georgia Department of Public Health

**Two probable cases that are epidemiologically linked are considered confirmed, even in the absence of laboratory confirmation

Page last updated 11/26/2019