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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

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Varicella Pneumonia

Lung infection (pneumonia) caused by the chickenpox virus is an uncommon complication of chickenpox. It develops when the chickenpox virus travels to the lungs.

Varicella pneumonia can occur 2 to 10 days after the chickenpox rash. Fever and cough are usually the first signs. Most people recover from varicella pneumonia. But the symptoms may last for weeks or months.

When it occurs, varicella pneumonia tends to affect:

  • Teens and adults. Teens and adults are more likely to develop varicella pneumonia than children. Adults who get this condition may become very sick. Varicella pneumonia is the most common cause of death in adults who get chickenpox.
  • Pregnant women. Pregnant women who have chickenpox during the last part of pregnancy are at risk for getting varicella pneumonia, which can lead to severe illness or death.
  • People who have chronic lung diseases.
  • People who have impaired immune systems.
  • People who smoke cigarettes.1


  1. LaRussa PS, Marin M (2011). Varicella-zoster virus infections. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., chap. 250, pp. 1104-1110. Philadelphia: Saunders.

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerThomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics

Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 09, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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