Chickenpox Home > Chickenpox Transmission

Chickenpox transmission usually occurs through direct contact with someone infected with the chickenpox virus. Transmission can also happen when virus from an infected person's coughing or sneezing contaminates the air. In a far less common situation, chickenpox can also be transmitted when someone comes in contact with a person who has an active herpes zoster (shingles) infection.

A Summary of Chickenpox Transmission

Chickenpox transmission occurs through direct contact with someone infected with the chickenpox virus, or through the air from an infected person's coughing or sneezing. Less commonly, chickenpox transmission can occur when someone comes into direct contact with a person who has an active herpes zoster (shingles) infection.

When Is a Person Contagious?

A person with chickenpox is contagious 1-2 days before the rash appears and until all blisters have formed scabs.
It takes between 10 and 21 days after contact with an infected person for someone to develop chickenpox.

Preventing Chickenpox Transmission

The easiest way of preventing chickenpox transmission is by getting the chickenpox vaccine. About 8 to 9 out of every 10 people who are vaccinated are completely protected from chickenpox. The vaccine almost always prevents against severe disease. If a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it is usually a very mild case with fewer skin lesions (usually less than 50). It generally lasts only a few days and involves no fever or a mild fever, and few other symptoms.
For chickenpox prevention, the vaccine should be used in the following groups of people:
  • All children between 12 and 18 months of age should have one dose of chickenpox vaccine.
  • Children who have had chickenpox do not need the vaccine. No tests need to be administered to determine immune status -- a parent's recollection of the disease is considered a reliable measure of previous infection and therefore immunity.
  • Children between 19 months and 13 years old, who have not had chickenpox, should be vaccinated with a single dose.
  • People age 13 and older who have not had chickenpox should get two doses of the vaccine 4 to 8 weeks apart.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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