Chickenpox is a highly contagious and common
childhood disease caused by a virus in the herpes family
of viruses called the varicella virus. The varicella virus can remain in the body for decades and
become active again in adults, causing herpes zoster (shingles).
Shingles involves the occurrence of painful skin sores along the distribution
of nerves across the trunk or face. The February 18, 2004, issue of JAMA includes an article about the effectiveness of the
varicella vaccine in preventing chickenpox.