According to ABC News, Whoopi Goldberg announced on "The View" today that her co-star, Barbara Walters, remains in the hospital with chickenpox, also called varicella. Walters is recovering from a head injury sustained in a fall during inauguration weekend. Goldberg told the audience that physicians had discovered Walters was running a fever and tests revealed the viral illness.
The 84 year old Walters fell while attending an inaugural party given at the British ambassador's residence. She was taken to a Washington hospital and has now been transferred to a New York hospital. Goldberg told viewers that Ms. Walters had not had chickenpox as a child.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) describe chickenpox, or varicella, as
... a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. The rash appears first on the trunk and face and can spread over the entire body causing between 250 and 500 itchy blisters.
Adults are at higher risk of complications from the viral illness and it may even be fatal is some cases. Pneumonia, infections of the brain or blood stream and toxic shock are among potential complications. The CDC suggests a two dose immunization for chickenpox and finds a 98 percent success rate for this vaccine. Prior to the vaccine, about 4 million Americans caught the illness each year and there were 100 to 150 related deaths.
An anti-viral medication, Acyclovir, is licensed for treatment of varicella infections in at-risk patients. Other treatments provide the patient some symptom relief and prevent infections at blister sites.