Epidemiology Paper on Chicken Pox

Description of Chicken Pox

Chicken pox also known as varicella is an extremely infectious disease that causes rashes, blisters or red spots, itching and fever. It is a contagious disease and is common in babies, but can also occur in adults and people with weak immune systems. Chickenpox is an infectious, disease caused by a virus known as varicella- zoster that spreads through the air when a person sneezes. It also spread when a person contacts one who is infected through touching or breathing from virus particles from blisters. The disease is contagious and spreads easily to those who have never had chickenpox or received the vaccine. People with shingle can also spread the disease because the same virus that causes shingles also causes chicken pox.

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Symptoms begin when a person starts producing an itchy rash, blisters that may last for a week. The blisters fill with fluid and eventually turn into scabs. The rashes will appear on the chest, back, face, inside the mouth and eyelids. Additional symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite and headaches. Once a person gets a single attack of chicken pox, they will always get immunity from the disease (Landau, 2010).

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Chicken pox can cause complications in babies, teenagers, adults, some pregnant women, and people with weak immune systems. Complications will especially be serious in people with HIV/Aids, cancer, people on chemotherapy, and those who have undergone transplants. These complications include dehydration, pneumonia, bleeding problems, inflammation of the brain, toxic shock syndrome, bacterial infections of the skin, bone and joint infections.

There is over the counter treatment that relieves the symptoms and prevents skin infections. These include the use of calamine lotion and colloidal oatmeal baths which reduce the itching. Keeping short fingernails reduces the urge to scratch the blisters. Medication that does not contain aspirin can relieve fever. For severe cases, doctors recommend the use of antiviral medications. These include Acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir. This is especially for those likely to develop a serious disease such as   those older than 12 years old and pregnant women.

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Before 1995 when the Chickenpox vaccine was released; 4 million of the children born each year contracted chicken pox. Five of every 1000 cases in the United States were hospitalized, and of this number 100 died. Adults constitute less than five percent of chicken pox cases. This is because the first attack of chicken pox leads to immunity to the disease. Incidence rates for chicken pox in the US are one in every 2,254 per year or 0.04 percent of the population. The prevalence of chickenpox is that everyone gets the disease by the time they are over eighteen (Landau, 2010).

Determinants of Health

Determinants of health are those factors that affect the health status of a person. These factors are both social and economic.  Health behaviors such as alcohol, drugs, smoking, and lack of exercise, poor eating habits and poor nutrition will affect a person’s health.  Economic factors such as income, wealth level of education, ethnicity, race and employment status will affect a person’s health. People with a high income and high level of education will usually live in a safe and healthy environment. The converse will occur where those with low incomes will live in poor conditions and have poor health outcome.

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease, and prevention is through vaccination. In this regard, people with high incomes and high level of education will be aware of chicken pox. They will, therefore, ensure that their children are vaccinated against the disease. People with low income and live in poor conditions may not be aware of the chicken pox vaccine. Furthermore, those who live in safe and healthy environments have access to health insurance and quality health care.

Epidemiologic Triangle for Chicken Pox

The Epidemiologic is a model that is used by scientists to study health problems.  The triangle has three corners; the Agent or (what), the Host or (who), and the En (where) that can study an infectious or contagious disease. The agent is what causes the disease and is usually a disease causing microbe. These microbes include bacteria, fungi, viruses or protozoa also commonly known as ‘germs’. The host is the organism harboring the disease usually humans or animals. If the host is an animal carrier, it may or may not get sick. However, if the host is a human it may display signs of the disease. The environment is the external factors that allow for the transmission of the disease (Buettner  & Muller, 2011).

In the case of chickenpox, the agent or microbe that causes the disease is the virus varicella-zoster. The virus will not affect any person who has already had an attack of the disease as they are immune to the disease. The host is the person who has contracted chickenpox and harbors the disease. This person will display symptoms of the disease that include itching, blisters and a fever. The environment for chickenpox is the air around those who have contracted the disease. Chickenpox is transmitted through the air when one coughs, sneezes or breathes the virus particles from the blisters.

Role of the Community Health Nurse

The community health nurse is a health professional who integrates the community and knowledge about the community with an understanding of the health issues affecting individuals and families. They articulate and translate health and illness experiences of vulnerable individuals and families within the community to health planners and policy makers. This assists the community to air their health problems and aspirations. Community health nurses assist in administering interventions that are applicable to the individual, family and population. The community health nurse acts as an epidemiologist in studying the health problems within the community. This is very critical especially in the case of contagious or infectious diseases. The role of the nurse is to report cases to health planners and policy makers so that the necessary interventions are proposed to prevent the disease from spreading. The community health nurse is an educator, preventer of disease, primary health care provider, counselor, advocate, observer, participant in health planning and promoter of health within the community (Landau, 2010).

The community health nurse will provide the necessary input for health programs that monitor, participate and respond to health issues in the community. The nurse is involved in reporting cases that are a threat to public health. The nurse is also involved in the collection and analysis of data that evaluates health trends and risk factors within the community. This assists in the determination of target prevention required within the community. They must also follow up on community health issues through assessment and evaluation of heath care services and health programs. The community health nurse plays a key role in the epidemiology.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is the national organization that addresses communicable diseases in the United States and works under the US Department of Health. The objective of the federal agency is to protect the public through the control and prevention of communicable diseases. The role of the organization is to develop and apply disease control and prevention especially for infectious diseases. Health services around the country work in conjunction with CDC and the State department of Health through implementation of a national plan to reduce the number of cases of chickenpox. The national plan for chickenpox is to increase chickenpox vaccination among children to 90%. Since the introduction of the vaccine in 1995, the number of chickenpox cases has reduced by 75-85% (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).

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    In conclusion, the paper has applied the concepts of epidemiology and nursing research to chickenpox. This is an infectious disease that affects babies, and adults with weak immune systems. Since 1995, after the release of the vaccine in 1995, chickenpox cases have reduced substantially. The paper has given a description of chicken pox that includes the causes, symptoms, treatment, complications and demographics. The epidemiologic triangle explains the agent, host and environment for chickenpox. The community health nurse plays a critical role in prevention and control of chickenpox. CDC in conjunction with the department of health and health services work together to increase chickenpox vaccination among children.

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