Complications from chickenpox can occur, but they are not as common in otherwise healthy people who get the disease.
People who may have more severe symptoms and may be at high risk for complications include
- Pregnant women
- People with weakened immune systems because of illness or medications; for example,
- People with HIV/AIDS or cancer
- Patients who have had transplants, and
- People on chemotherapy, immunosuppressive medications, or long-term use of steroids.
For more information, see People at High Risk for Varicella Complications.
Serious complications from chickenpox include
- bleeding problems
- infection or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis, cerebellar ataxia)
- bacterial infections of the skin and soft tissues in children including Group A streptococcal infections
- blood stream infections (sepsis)
- toxic shock syndrome
- bone infections
- joint infections
Some people with serious complications from chickenpox can become so sick that they need to be hospitalized. Chickenpox can also cause death.
Some deaths from chickenpox continue to occur in healthy, unvaccinated children and adults. Many of the healthy adults who died from chickenpox contracted the disease from their unvaccinated children.
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