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Varieties of Herpes Viruses, Chicken Pox and Chick Peas - Linguistics and Culture In Medicine

Updated on August 3, 2013

Doctor Robert Steele recently wrote about Chicken Pox for iVillage when a young person wrote in and asked if the pox come from chickens. Doctor Steele is a board certified Pediatrician at the well known St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, Missouri. He earned his medical degree from the prestigious Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, TN.

Why "Chicken Pox"?

Dr. Steele wrote that he did not immediately know the answer to the youth's question and asked among his colleagues.

What he finally learned was that the first description of the dies ease we call Chicken Pox was one of skin lesions (pox) standing up as if on top of the skin. The general population of the time felt that they resembled chick peas.

The Latin word for chick peas is cicer (French was chiche, actually used as chiche pois [pronounced chichay pwa, perhaps for chick peas]). Cicer would have changed as it was passed from person to person through the years and centuries. It probably began as cicer pox and could have developed through sharing and changes to cicer pox, cicher pox, chicer pox, chicker pox, chicken pox. The French phrase was already closer to chicken pox.

People even call the the skin lesions of the disease chicken pops today.


Eight (8) Types of Herpes Viruses In Humans

Chicken Pox virus comprises only one of 8 varieties of Herpes in humans. Some of these viruses can cause cancer. We studied a few types of Herpes Viruses in preventive medicine courses as a part of Infection Control, which is one of the largest tasks performed in hospitals. The full eight types of human herpes include:

1. Human simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV1) causes Herpes labialis or cold sores and Cutaneous (skin) Herpes, Genital Herpes, Gingivostomatitis (in the mouth), Herpes Encephalitis (brain infection), and Keratoconjunctivitis (cornea/conjunctiva inflammation), but also others in immunosuppressed patients. The virus spreads by contact. In some cases, the virus never leaves the body.

Herpes Type I and Type 2 cannot change into one another, but each can infect the other's most usual infection site. That is, Type 1 can infect the genital area, while Type 2 can infect the mouth. In America, there is a;so some evidence that Type 1 Herpes simplex has been responsible for the deaths of some ultra-Orthodox Hebrew infants after circumcision rituals.

Recently, it has come to light that a related type of herpes maybe infecting corals at sea. It is though not to be passable to nor able to infect humans.,

2. Human simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV2) - Passed by contact. Causes same infections as Type I, but also neonatal herpes infection of the whole face and the eyes, mouth, skin, and internal organs, if the mom has HSV2. Sadly 1/5 of American women carry the virus.

3. Varicella zoster Virus (HHV-3) causes chickenpox (and later, shingles). Extremely contagious. The virus lies dormant in ganglia (nerve bundles) after chicken pox heals and can come out years later on the skin as painful shingles.

I did not have Chicken Pox until I was 13 years old. Immunizations for many of these diseases either do not work on me or wear off quickly.The only treatment was bed rest and additional fluid intake. The itching was not too bad, but baking soda in the bathwater helped with that. I remember first having a fever of about 102º for 3 or 4 days and having a red rash the second day that turned into red bumps. The bumps stayed a week, turned slowly to scabs and fell off during baths in the second week. Today, anti-viral medications and salves are available and Benadryl may help, but some parents tape oven mitts over their children's hands to prevent them from scratching. Often, the red bumps burst, but mine did not. Immunizations prevent many cases of of the disease, but cases that occur usually last a week.

My case of pox lasted two full weeks and that is longer than usual, but I never had shingles. One elderly man I know was debilitated for an entire year with that disease. It can be deadly. Chicken Pox Parties have become popular again and that is another problem (see link at end of article).

4. Epstein-Barr Virus (HHV-4) or EBV. - Mononucleosis, passed through saliva, as on shared silverware and drinking glasses, as well as through kissing (Kids, don't drink after your parents or friends from the same glass) -- fatigue, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes, swelling of the spleen, and a few types of cancer (nose and throat, Hodgkin’s lymphoma).

5. Cytomegalovirus (HHV-5) or CMV - Most harmful to newborns and immunosuppressed patients. Infants can die or suffer Developmental Disabilities/MR. The second group of patients can experience the results of this virus as inflammation of the intestines as Colitis, of the liver as as Hepatitis, or as inflammations of the heart, kidneys, pancreas, lungs, and retinas.

6 and 7. Human herpes Virus 6 and Virus 7 (HHV-6 and HHV-7) -- Cause Roseola infantum, a childhood rash milder than measles. However, middle ear and brain infection may occur.

I had Roseola infantum, something related called the Fifth Disease, and then as a child and an adult, measles several times. I am still not completely immune. Infection control is vital as prevention, especially when immunizations against these viral diseases do not work. Hand washing, bed linen care, and care with eating utensils and dinnerware are all important.Smoking around children can damage the hair-like cilia in the lungs and bronchial tract that normally brush away infectious materials. Because of high fevers with these infections and a complication of pneumonia in one case, I underwent a spinal tap and brain X-rays/scans to rule out encephalitis.

8. Human herpes Virus 8 (HHV-8) - Causes Kaposi’s sarcoma in cases of HIV/AIDS where the immune system is weakened or destroyed. Cases of other conditions and diseases in which such treatments as chemotherapy have destroyed the immune system might also experience a higher risk of Virus 8.

Costs of Herpes

GBI research states that global disease/treatment marketplace of the viruses Number 1,2,3,and 5 mentioned above was valued at over $4.2 Billion in 2010. It be $9.1 Billion in possible revenues available by the year 2018, according to PR Newswire.



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