Does Chicken Pox Come From Chickens

Does Chicken Pox Come From Chickens? (Nope, Here’s Why!)

In this article, I’m looking at a topic that isn’t as closely related to backyard chickens as people think.

I’m sure you’ve heard of chickenpox, and you may even have had a bout of this contagious, itchy infection.

Being called ‘chicken’-pox, it’s not that crazy to ask, “does chicken pox come from chickens?”

The answer is actually, no!

Does Chicken Pox Come From Chickens?

It’s believed that the first chickenpox viruses can be traced back as far as 70 million years ago!

This is around the time the dinosaurs went extinct.

Chickens are often said to have descended from dinosaurs, although there is no evidence that chickens created or passed on this disease.

We (humans) are the only known species that the disease affects naturally.

Chickenpox doesn’t affect chickens or other birds, although it has been caused in other primates, including chimpanzees and gorillas.

I couldn’t find any scientific evidence to suggest or prove where or how the virus originated, but it’s not named ‘chickenpox’ because it came from chickens.

Related How chickens evolved from dinosaurs – a look at chicken anatomy.

What Animal Did Chickenpox Come From?

The most likely explanation is that the virus mutated from another virus found in animals, and then spread to humans.

We just don’t know what animal first had or spread chickenpox to humans as it’s believed to go back more than 70 million years!

Where Did the Name Chicken Pox Come From?

The name ‘chickenpox’ is derived from the Latin word ‘varicella’, which is the Latin name for smallpox, also called variola.

The word variola is itself derived from the word ‘varius’, which means ‘spotted’ in Latin.

It’s also thought that the name came about because the spots or blisters caused by chickenpox were said to resemble chickpeas.

Another theory is that the name was given due to the mild nature of chickenpox in children, as opposed to the more severe form of smallpox.

While we don’t know exactly where or how chickenpox originated, we do know that it’s not from chickens!

So, there you have it.

The next time someone asks if chicken pox comes from chickens, you can give them any of the above answers and impress them!

Can Chickens Get Chickenpox?

As I said, chickenpox doesn’t affect chickens or other birds.

The virus that causes chickenpox in humans is different from the one that affects birds.

It’s also worth noting that you can’t get chickenpox from a chicken, or from eating chicken meat.

This is because the virus isn’t transmitted through food.

You can only catch chickenpox from coming into contact with an infected person, or by touching infected fluids (such as saliva) or objects (such as towels).

There are ‘pox’ diseases that chickens do get, so maybe that’s where the confusion has come from if there is any.

Chickens can be infected by avian pox, fowlpox, and canker.

These diseases are not transferable to humans.

Avian pox is caused by a virus and can affect different parts of a chicken’s body, including the skin, digestive tract, respiratory system, and eyes.

Fowlpox is also caused by a virus and can cause lesions on the face, wattles, and combs of chickens.

Canker is caused by bacteria and usually affects a chicken’s respiratory system.

Three very different infections!

Related How to tell the health of a chicken from their comb and wattle!

In Summary

So, to answer the question, “does chickenpox come from chickens?”, No, it doesn’t!

The name ‘chickenpox’ is derived from the Latin word ‘varicella’, which is the Latin name for smallpox.

It’s also thought that the name came about because the spots or blisters caused by chickenpox were said to resemble chickpeas.

So, you’ll never see your chickens suffering from chickenpox, and there is absolutely no risk of you or anyone else getting infected by a chicken!

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Image credits – Photo by Marjan Grabowski on Unsplash

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