Bawk, bawk! Uh-oh! KidzBuzz has the chickenpox!

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease, meaning it’s easy to get it when someone near you has it. It usually starts out feeling like a cold or the flu — fever, headache, stomachache — but then the person develops an itchy rash. It’s no fun (even if you get a few days off from school), but there are a few pieces of good news. First, most people only get it once. Second, if you get it as a kid, it’s not dangerous. And third, you might have had a shot that will keep you from getting it at all.


Believe it or not, chickens can’t get chickenpox. The name of the disease actually comes from people using the word “chicken” to describe someone who is scared or wimpy. Because the disease is milder than others like it, it was named for the idea that it’s a wimpy illness.


If you’ve ever gotten shots at the doctor, you’ve probably received vaccines. A flu shot, for example, is a vaccine that is supposed to help you from catching the flu. There are vaccines for all kinds of diseases. But if you ask your parents about when they got the chickenpox vaccine, chances are they’ll tell you they didn’t. That particular one has only been around in the United States since 1995. So it’s very possible they actually got sick with chickenpox.

Activity: Don’t spread germs!

Chickenpox and other illnesses can spread very quickly when people cough and sneeze, and germs can go just about anywhere. To stay healthy (and to help your family and friends stay healthy, too), practice good hand-washing skills. Here’s how. 

First, you need to know when to wash your hands. Wash them before and after making or eating food, using the bathroom, blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, petting an animal (or cleaning up their poop), and touching trash.

Second, use the correct method. Wet your hands with clean water, then turn the water off and get some soap. Rub your hands together, getting every inch of your hands (including between your fingers and the backs of your hands) for at least 20 seconds. If you’re not sure how long that is, sing “Happy Birthday” twice. Rinse your hands well and dry your hands with a clean towel.