PLAINVIEW, NY – Actress Angelina Jolie’s video confirming that she has chicken pox shows that age doesn’t play a part in who can catch the chicken pox, a New York emergency medicine physician says.
“Most people have mild disease when they contract chicken pox at a young age and subsequently develop immunity,” says Alan Kaplan, MD, director of emergency medicine at Plainview Hospital. “Today, children are given the chicken pox vaccine, which enables them to develop immunity without developing any symptoms for the most part. Although not as common for adults to contract the chicken pox, they can suffer more serious complications such as pneumonia, cellulitis and encephalitis. Thus, it is a more serious condition in adults.”
Sanjey Gupta, MD, director of emergency medicine at Franklin Hospital in Valley Stream, adds, ""It is also possible that if one had a mild case of chicken pox as a child, and were exposed again as an adult, his/her immunity may not be strong enough, and another chicken pox infection may arise from the new exposure. This is very rare."
Signs of chicken pox that both adults and children should be aware of include:
- Loss of appetite
- Raised red or pink bumps on your skin
"Chickenpox was historically been a childhood disease, along with measles and mumps, which was mild in children but with the potential for more serious disease in adults and the immunosupressed," says Alan Mensch, MD, senior vice president of medical affairs at Plainview and Syosset hospitals. "It is highly contagious via the airborne route -- sneezing or coughing -- or by contact with the secretions within chickenpox or shingles pustules."