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What is chickenpox?

Chickenpox is a mild but highly infectious condition caused by a virus called the varicella-zoster virus

How do you know if someone has chickenpox?

The most commonly recognised symptom of chickenpox is a red rash that covers the body. However, before developing a rash there may be mild flu-like symptoms.

These symptoms may include:

  • nausea (feeling sick)
  • a high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or over
  • aching, painful muscles
  • headache
  • generally feeling unwell
  • loss of appetite

How does chickenpox spread?

The chickenpox virus can be found in the tiny droplets of saliva and nasal mucus that come from the sneezes and coughs of an infected person. You can become infected by breathing in these droplets from the air.

These droplets can also land on surfaces or objects, such as clothing or bedding. If you then handle an infected object and touch your face, you can transfer the virus to yourself and become infected.

How do ambulance staff stop chickenpox spreading?

Ambulance staff take special precautions with patients who have chickenpox in order to stop it spreading to other people.

Simple hygiene measures reduce the risk of spreading chickenpox:

  • Everyone should clean their hands before and after touching patients.
  • Hands can be cleaned with soap and water, moist hand wipes or alcohol hand rubs.
  • Staff will wear gloves and aprons when they care for a patient who has chickenpox.
  • The area where the patient was sitting and any equipment used on the patient will be cleaned using biocidal wipes.
  • If linen is used, eg sheets or blankets, these items will be changed between patients.

Does a patient with chickenpox have to be transported on their own?

Patients who have chickenpox must be transported on their own.

Further information is available from the Health Protection Agency website.