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Chickenpox is a very infectious disease caused by the varicella zoster virus.  It spreads from person to person by direct contact with fluid from the rash or through the air from an infected person’s cough or sneeze. A person with chickenpox is contagious from 1-2 days before the rash appears until all blisters have formed scabs. People with chickenpox should stay home and limit exposure to other people during this infectious time period.  It usually takes about 14-16 days (range, 10-21 days) after contact with an infected person for someone to develop chickenpox (this is the incubation period).

A safe effective vaccine is available to prevent chickenpox and two doses are recommended for all children as part of the routine vaccination schedule and for adolescents and adults who have not been vaccinated or had chickenpox.  Age appropriate vaccination against chickenpox is required for child care, preschool, and grade school entry in California. 

Chickenpox infections are NOT reportable in Orange County, unless associated with hospitalization, death, or an outbreak (which should be reported within one (1) working day by phone (714-834-8180) or fax (714-560-4050) to OCHCA Epidemiology).  Information and resources for schools and child cares with chickenpox are available on the OCHCA Epidemiology School webpage .

For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website    

Last reviewed November 29, 2018