Chickenpox is a common childhood illness that usually occurs between the ages of 2 and 10. The main symptom is an itchy, blistering rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which children can be vaccinated against as part of the New Zealand immunisation schedule.
Chickenpox is a preventable illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It was very common before the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine was introducted. It is extremely contagious, but the rash that it produces is usually harmless and disappears on its own. While you can get chickenpox at any age, most cases occur before the age of 14.
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But a number of other conditions can also cause a rash like chickenpox. Similar rashes can occur with shingles, smallpox, herpes simplex virus type 1 or 2, coxsackie virus, echovirus and rickettsialpox. Doctors use certain features of the rash to distinguish a rash like chickenpox from a rash actually caused by chickenpox.