You know, in case it’s not totally obvious
| Not only is chickenpox a serious disease, but it can cause problems later in life.
Ars Technica – Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin made headlines Tuesday after revealing in a radio interview that he had purposefully exposed his nine unvaccinated children to chickenpox, drawing swift condemnation from health experts.
In case anyone needs a refresher on why you shouldn’t deprive children of safe, potentially lifesaving vaccines or purposefully expose them to serious, potentially life-threatening infections, here’s a quick rundown.
Chickenpox is nothing to mess with
Though most children who get the itchy, highly contagious viral disease go on to recover after a week or so of misery, chickenpox can cause severe complications and even death in some.
Complications include nasty skin infections, pneumonia, brain inflammation, hemorrhaging, blood stream infections, and dehydration.
If the infection strikes early in a pregnancy, there’s a small chance it could cause birth defects, including abnormally formed limbs, brain, eyes, and skull, as well as intellectual disabilities. If it strikes just before birth, a newborn has a 30 percent chance of getting a severe form of the disease, which can be fatal.
In addition to newborns, people who have an increased risk of severe complications from chickenpox include teens, adults, pregnant women, and people who have a weakened immune system, such as cancer patients on chemotherapy, transplant patients, and those with HIV/AIDS.
But even healthy children may develop complications. There is no way to determine in advance the severity of the infection.
And the fight’s not over after chickenpox. Then there’s shingles.
After chickenpox subsides, the virus, varicella-zoster virus (VZV), goes dormant.
It hides out in dorsal root ganglia, which are nerves that transmit signals to the spinal cord.
VZV can react at any point later in life to cause shingles, which commonly manifests as an incredibly painful, sometimes itchy rash on the trunk of the body. Adults Skipping Vaccines Miss Out On Effective New Shingles Shot
Shingles is also nothing to mess with, as Ars’ own Managing Editor Eric Bangeman can attest.
He battled with the resurgence in the fall of 2015 and described it as “several days of acute misery sandwiched by a couple of weeks of feeling crappy.” Read more.