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Varicella (Chicken Pox)

Varicella Lesions
Varicella Lesions - Courtesy of CDC PHIL

Varicella is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). Symptoms include mild fever and a diffuse itchy rash which progresses from macules to papules to vesicular lesions before crusting.

Varicella is usually mild in children, but complications can occur, and include secondary skin infections, septicemia, toxic shock syndrome, pneumonia, or encephalitis.

A varicella vaccine was introduced in the 1990's, and is highly effective. Before the vaccine was available, there were approximately 10,000 varicella hospitalizations each year in the United States, and over 100 varicella-related deaths.

Alaska Surveillance Data

In the past five years, Alaska has received an average of 38 reports of varicella per year. The majority of cases reported to the Section of Epidemiology were clinically diagnosed only without any laboratory confirmation testing; health care providers are encouraged to test to more accurately describe varicella epidemiology and ensure that appropriate disease control measures are implemented.

Reports of Varicella by Year - Alaska, 2014-2018 

Resources for the General Public

Resources for Healthcare Providers

Effective 9/3/2023, Alaska Division of Public Health reporting requirements were updated. Individual suspected or confirmed varicella (chickenpox) infections are no longer reportable to public health by laboratories or health care providers. Varicella deaths must be reported by health care providers (7 AAC 27.005)

Infectious Disease Program Resources