IV. CHICKEN-POX (Varicella)

Definition.--This is a slightly contagious disease of children, characterized by an eruption of vesicles on the surface of the body. Children may get off with a dozen pox, and sometimes the disease is so severe that they have one hundred and fifty to two hundred on the entire body As a rule, it is a very insignificant disease. By that I mean that it is not of sufficient importance to worry about.

Etiology.--The disease occurs in epidemic, endemic, and sporadic forms; that is to say, it may spread all over the country, it may be confined to just one locality, and then again a case may occur in a community without any other cases developing. This is true of all so-called contagious diseases, showing that contagion requires a proper physical state of the one taking the disease before it will manifest itself. No one will take any of the so-called epidemic or contagious diseases who is not in a favorable condition to be stricken down.

Symptoms.--It is said that after exposure it requires from ten to fifteen days for the disease to develop. In some cases it starts with a slight chill. Most children are a little irritable and cross--just as they might be with indigestion; and, indeed, they have indigestion, or they would not take the disease. The question, therefore, is: Is it the indigestion that causes the disease, or causes the chicken-pox, or does the chicken-pox cause the indigestion? The epidemic influence exists for certain diseases, but it must find the constitutional derangement exactly fitted before chicken-pox, or any other specific disease, can manifest. All such diseases represent a peculiar chemical state of the fluids of the body. Then, when the proper domestic or civic influence is created, the combination ends in a certain type of disease. This is true of all so-called contagious diseases. This definition may be used for diphtheria, scarlet fever, smallpox, etc. Nothing will come of chicken-pox per se. Children who are abused very greatly and have deranged digestions, and who possibly are predisposed to tuberculosis, may break down from an attack of chicken-pox; but it is a mistake to recognize chicken-pox as the cause. It only marks the beginning of the breaking-down, because the constitutional derangement was in existence before the chicken-pox developed.

Treatment.--Children should be put to bed and the bowels washed out daily. No food at all, but all the hot water desired may be given. As soon as there is freedom from discomfort and no increase in temperature, feeding may begin with fruit juices and water, half and half, the first day; fruit two meals and salad one meal the next few days. Then return to regular eating.

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