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How do you catch chickenpox?

Chickenpox is highly contagious and can be spread by being in close contact with someone who has chickenpox.

  • Skin to skin contact with someone who has chickenpox, specifically from the fluid-filled blisters  
  • By breathing in air droplets from a sneeze or cough

As chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus, you can also catch chickenpox from people with shingles if you touch or breathe in particles from shingles blisters.

A person with the chickenpox is generally contagious from the beginning of the illness (up to 2 days before the spots appear) until about 5 days after the first spots appear. So long as there are no new blisters or moist crusts on spots, the person will not be contagious even if there are still crusts on the skin. 
You should always practice good health habits to avoid spreading the illness, such as:

  • Avoid contact with people until the spots has healed and you feel better
  • Wash hands regularly
  • Cover your mouth when you cough
Does polio still exist?

In Australia, the last two epidemics were in 1956 and 1961 to 1962. Following the introduction of polio vaccine in the 1950s, the last case of locally acquired polio in Australia was in 1972. Australia was declared polio free in 2000.

However, polio does still exist in other parts of the world and cases continue to be reported in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. However, reported cases of polio have been dramatically reduced worldwide through an intensified Global Polio Eradication Initiative by the World Health Organization (WHO).

As polio could still be contracted and imported from overseas, the Australian Government recommends that children are routinely vaccinated at 2, 4 and 6 months and 4 years of age, and boosters are given to adults at higher risk of exposure e.g. travelling to countries where polio is considered a risk.