Chicken pox is generally considered a children's illness. In fact, adolescents and adults make up only 5 percent of varicella zoster virus cases. That's because, due to the highly contagious nature of the virus, very few people make into adulthood without having been exposed to it. But, occasionally, that happens. And contracting chicken pox at an older age can increase your odds of having a more severe infection. Consider this: Even though people who get chicken pox in adulthood are a small percentage of the overall number of infections, they make up around 35 percent of chicken pox-related deaths.
Other risk factors for contracting a severe case of chicken pox include:
- Being pregnant.
- Having a condition, like cancer, that leads to a weakened immune system.
- Taking steroids, such as those prescribed for asthma.
- Being under 1 year of age.
Infants, in particular, are at risk for severe complications. Not only are they too young to have been inoculated against it, they also haven't developed the necessary antibodies for fighting off the virus.
The parents of infants, and anyone in the risk categories listed above, should be on the lookout for signs that the virus has worsened. On the next page, we'll further explore the symptoms associated with severe forms of chicken pox. Keep reading to find out more.