What is it?
Chickenpox is a highly contagious illness caused by the varicella zoster virus.
- Is usually a mild illness in healthy children.
- Can be more severe in babies, adolescents, adults and people with weak immune systems.
Complications of chickenpox include:
- Pneumonia - a lung infection
- Encephalitis - swelling of the brain
- Bacterial infections of the skin from scratching the rash
Pregnant women who get chickenpox and are not immune are at serious risk for complications, including death. If a pregnant woman gets chickenpox, the fetus may become infected and develop congenital varicella syndrome, which can cause a variety of serious complications. Risk to newborn babies can be significant.