Chickenpox (Varicella)

Chickenpox (varicella) is spread by coughing, sneezing, or direct contact with fluid from the blisters caused by the disease. It can be severe and may lead to serious skin infections, pneumonia, and meningitis (swelling of the covering of the brain and spinal cord).

Symptoms of the disease include:

  • Fever.
  • Itchy skin with blister rash.
  • General feeling of illness.

Although considered a common childhood disease, the varicella zoster virus can be reactivated later in life and cause a painful sensory-nerve rash called shingles. Before the vaccine was available, approximately 100 people died from complications of chickenpox each year in the US.

Scientific term

  • Varicella

Generic term

  • Chickenpox

Age groups at risk

  • All

Vaccine Information

Vaccine information statements

Related information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: