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Sunday 16th June 2019

Sunlight could impede spread of chickenpox

19th December 2011
University of London researchers have said that exposure to sunlight could stop the chickenpox virus from spreading.


 The study, which was published in the Virology journal, said the amount of cases of chickenpox was lower in regions where there was a high level of UV light.

The varicella-zoster virus usually spread very quickly via coughing and sneezing, although contact with the spots generated by the infection is the usual cause of infection. 

Dr Phil Rice, who headed the research, said exposure to UV light could be the reason why chickenpox spreads far slower and less efficiently in hot countries.

He used information collected from 25 previous studies on the chickenpox virus and plotted it alongside climate data.

He was able to identify a strong link between how the virus spread and UV levels. 

He said: "No-one had considered UV as a factor before, but when I looked at the epidemiological studies they showed a good correlation between global latitude and the presence of the virus."

Professor Judy Breuer from University College London said other factors could play a role in stopping the spread of the disease.

She said: "Lots of things aside from UV could affect it - heat, humidity and social factors such as overcrowding."

"It's quite possible that UV is having an effect, but we don't have any firm evidence showing the extent this is happening."

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