Why are chicken pox called chicken pox?

+34 votes
asked Dec 4, 2018 in Health & Wellness by clarice (650 points)
edited May 20, 2019
When I first found out my little sister had chicken pox, I feared she was sick with the bird flu or something. My mom said the name has nothing to do with the illness, but neither of us actually knew why. If it has nothing to do with chickens, why is chicken a part of the name?

3 Answers

+22 votes
answered Mar 21, 2019 by Mariah (970 points)
edited Apr 27, 2019
Chicken pox are in no way associated medically with actual chickens, nor does one receive the illness from any bird. Rather, when one gets chicken pox, one of the first things they’ll notice is the appearance of red, itchy blisters all over their body. Chickens also develop red blisters all over, and this is due to them pecking at their own skin and each other in a sort of ‘chicken cannibalism,’ so they call it. Hens-forth (pun intended), the name ‘chicken pox’ is merely related to the similar blisters of those characteristic of the illness and chickens’ peck marks.
+10 votes
answered Aug 11, 2019 by Kristin (1,030 points)
edited Aug 12, 2019 by Kris

Why are chicken pox called chicken pox? Well, the reason behind the illness name, ‘chicken pox’ has nothing to do with the bird except for one similarity. Chickens have a tendency to peck at their skin and the skin of other chickens, causing red and bloody scabs, which resemble the blisters appearing on those with the illness. Those with chicken pox, like chickens themselves, will end up having similar looking red blisters from head to toe, therefore spurring the oddly fitting title for this illness. 

+5 votes
answered May 22, 2019 by renee (970 points)
edited Jun 24, 2019 by Kris
Your mother was right, there is no medical association between the illness and its title. The association comes with the appearance of the blisters, or ‘pox,’ that are trademark of the illness. Can you think of another animal with red blisters all over their bodies? That’s right! Chickens! Chickens are quite the little peckers, pecking at everything from their food to each other, therefore creating similar red, bloody, and scabby blisters, which look like those characteristic of chicken pox. It appears to be just a silly name for a not-so-fun sickness.
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