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Chickenpox, Its Epidemiology and Nursing Role


Some communicable diseases can quickly spread through a community without proper prevention and health care. Community health nurses can help stop this from happening by researching and analyzing data and keeping the community educated. One of these communicable diseases is chickenpox, the highly contagious nature of which can affect various groups of people and rapidly disperse through the community. This paper describes the nature of chickenpox and its development in the epidemiologic triangle, explores the roles of the community health nurse and national agencies in the prevention, treatment, and awareness of chickenpox in society.

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Disease Description

Chickenpox, otherwise known as varicella, is a communicable disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017). It is most notably characterized by the itchy rashes, which then turn into fluid-filled blisters that appear first on the stomach, chest, or face and then spread to the rest of the body. Other symptoms may include fever, headache, nausea, malaise, loss of appetite, and tiredness.

These symptoms usually occur before the rashes, which appear after one or two days of infection. After six to ten days, blisters turn into scabs and start falling off. This disease is extremely contagious, as it spreads by direct and indirect ways of transmission through touching or inhaling the virus, which is contained in the blisters’ liquid or coughs and sneezes of an infected individual. The portal of entry for chickenpox is the respiratory system. Affected individuals remain contagious throughout the development of the disease until the formation of scabs.

Although most cases of chickenpox are not severe, some people may encounter a number of complications. There are groups of people that are at a higher risk for complications than others. These groups include infants and adults, pregnant women, and individuals with a weakened immune system, such as patients on various medications and people with HIV, AIDS, or cancer. Complications can range from mild to serious.

Such complications include bleeding, pneumonia, bacterial skin infections, and encephalitis. According to Chowdhury et al. (2014), some individuals may encounter rather serious complications, which have to be treated by a medical professional. For example, one young adult infected by chickenpox developed a urinary tract infection, encephalitis, septicemia, and disseminated intravascular coagulation (Chowdhury et al., 2014).

Another study by Amalnath, Karthikeyan, Thammishetti, Subrahmanyam, and Surendran (2016) shows that individuals with chickenpox can suffer from serious neurological complications, such as cerebellitis, cortical venous thrombosis, and arterial stroke. Pregnant women, who are infected with chickenpox, may additionally affect the unborn child, which can result in it being born with congenital varicella syndrome and limb abnormalities.

The primary way of dealing with chickenpox is vaccination. It prevents most patients from getting infected. Vaccinated patients that get infected don’t usually develop a severe case of chickenpox. If a person does not show any signs of complications, the disease can be treated at home after a consultation with a health professional. Some ways of treatment include antiviral medications, symptom-relieving lotions and balms, and non-aspirin fever-reducing medications (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).

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In the case of complications, infected individuals should receive professional medical treatment. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the incidence, morbidity, mortality, and prevalence of this disease are continuously declining due to vaccination (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017).

Health Determinants

The determinants of health are factors that impact a person’s well-being. They include social status, economic environment, education, physical environment, individual characteristics, genetics, behavior, and habits of a person. Every one of these factors can affect the development of chickenpox. For example, the physical environment of an individual with unsafe water or contaminated air, as well as an unhealthy workplace, can result in a faster spread of the disease.

Because chickenpox is highly contagious, the environment of healthy and infected people plays a significant role in the disease’s development. Poorer conditions and the inability to get vaccinated lead to fast contamination. Moreover, if individuals that have complications cannot receive proper treatment at the hospital, they are more likely to not only spread the disease but also to suffer more negative outcomes. Personal habits and behavior also impact the overall health of individuals. For example, proper hygiene is crucial for both infected and uninfected persons.

Epidemiologic Triangle

The epidemiologic triangle is a three-corner model that shows the process of disease spreading. This model includes an agent, a host, and an environment. The agent is something that causes a disease. In this case, the cause of chickenpox is a virus called the varicella-zoster virus. This virus spreads through the infected cells. The host is an organism that spreads the disease. For chickenpox, most hosts are represented by infected individuals and the fluids of the blisters that can be transmitted through air or direct contact. The hosts can be affected differently by this disease because of some personal characteristics.

For example, adults that are infected with chickenpox may encounter more complications than infected children. The environment is the last corner of the epidemiologic triangle. It encompasses the external conditions and surroundings of the host that cause the disease to be transmitted. This virus is spread through direct or indirect contact with an infected person. It can also survive for a short amount of time to be transmitted through some contaminated items, such as clothes of an infected person.

Role of the Community Health Nurse

The spread of chickenpox can be stopped or evaded with preventative measures, such as vaccination. Therefore, medical professionals that are responsible for educating the public and collecting necessary data to predict an outbreak play a significant role in the health of the community. One of these professionals is a community health nurse whose objectives include monitoring and interacting with community members to prevent health issues before they spread through the entire community.

In the case of chickenpox, it is important for community health nurses to collect and analyze the data about individuals, who were or were not vaccinated. Looking at the most common causes of infected patients can also provide some insight into the demographic situation of the community, which may allow the nurses to inform certain groups of patients to take precautions. Analyzing the most frequent complications can help community health nurses to identify possible connections or influences that are present in the community. The promotion of proper hygiene, vaccination, and overall disease awareness can also become one of the nurses’ goals. If treated right and timely, chickenpox can be a disease that does not significantly challenge the community’s health.

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National Agency

Chickenpox is caused by a virus that can also result in a person getting other types of diseases. One of them is shingles, which can be developed separately or as a continuation of smallpox. Post-herpetic neuralgia is another infection that can appear because of this virus. All of the diseases that are caused by the varicella-zoster virus can cause a lot of pain to infected individuals. The National Shingles Foundation is an organization that focuses on the issues connected to the varicella-zoster virus.

This foundation is non-profit. Its primary activities include building community awareness and raising funds to research the virus, various aspects of the diseases, and their effect on human organisms (National Organization for Rare Disorders, 2017). The foundation focuses on research to prevent the virus from appearing and spreading in the first place rather than analyzing the effects of the epidemics.

Moreover, the National Shingles Foundation provides interested individuals with information about the causes, symptoms, complications, and treatment of varicella-zoster virus-related diseases. However, it does not offer medical advice or assistance, although the website has some information about preventative measures, treatments, and psychosocial interventions (National Organization for Rare Disorders, 2017).


Chickenpox is a highly contagious communicable disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. Its main symptoms are rashes and blisters that appear on the skin of infected patients after one to two days of nausea, fever, and tiredness. The disease enters the body through the respiratory tract and can be transmitted through air or direct contact with the infected individual’s blisters. Some affected persons can encounter a number of complications that range from bleeding and bacterial skin infections to encephalitis, cerebellitis, and arterial stroke. Infants, adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing complications.

Chickenpox can be controlled and prevented by means of vaccination. The role of a community health nurse in the treatment of chickenpox is to spread awareness to the community and collect data connected to the disease. Giving necessary information to individuals is also the primary goal of the National Shingles Foundation.


Amalnath, D., Karthikeyan, A., Thammishetti, V., Subrahmanyam, D. K. S., & Surendran, D. (2016). Neurological complications due to chicken pox in adults: A retrospective study of 20 patients. Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, 19(1), 161.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Chickenpox. Web.

Chowdhury, M. K., Siddique, A. A., Haque, M. M., Ali, S., Biswas, S., Biswas, P. K., & Ahasan, H. N. (2014). Life threatening complications of chicken pox in a young adult. Journal of Medicine, 15(1), 55-57.

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National Organization for Rare Disorders. (2017). National Shingles Foundation. Web.

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"Chickenpox, Its Epidemiology and Nursing Role." StudyCorgi, 19 Feb. 2021,

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StudyCorgi. 2021. "Chickenpox, Its Epidemiology and Nursing Role." February 19, 2021.


StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Chickenpox, Its Epidemiology and Nursing Role'. 19 February.

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