Sun Prevents Chickenpox?

A new study shows that chickenpox is less common in areas of the world with high levels of UV radiation.

Jef Akst
Jef Akst

Jef Akst is managing editor of The Scientist, where she started as an intern in 2009 after receiving a master’s degree from Indiana University in April 2009 studying the mating behavior of seahorses.

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Dec 21, 2011

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS MAD MAX

Chickenpox is a miserable week for most kids, threatens to be much more dangerous for adults, and keeps patients of all ages indoors and in bed for days. But according to a new study published in Virology, the viral disease may be less likely to spread when exposed to the sun. The study, headed by University of London researchers, found that chickenpox is found less commonly in regions with high levels of UV radiation, which is known to inactivate viruses. The pattern could explain why chickenpox is seen less frequently in warmer months in some countries, lead researcher Phil Rice of St. George's, University of London told BBC News.

But the lower incidence of the disease may not all be attributable to the sun. Temperature, humidity, and other environmental factors may also contribute, Judy Breuer from University College London told the BBC. “It's...

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