A 37-year-old man from Britain has died after catching chickenpox — a common virus that mostly affects children. Geraint Hughes had been sick for a week after contracting the virus, but doctors warned his wife that chickenpox can be serious for adults - but is rarely fatal.

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However Geraint, who had an 18-month-old baby, died after developing complications.

"Nobody can believe what has happened really," said Martin Dickinson, who was best man at Geraint's wedding five years ago.

"Everybody is in shock and heartbroken and devastated by the news. He was a great guy and very down to earth."

Before 1995 — when a vaccine for chickenpox became available in the United States — about 4 million people, mostly children, came down with chickenpox each year, according to the Mayor Clinic. Since then, the number of cases and hospitalizations has dropped dramatically.

When chickenpox does occur, it's highly contagious among people who aren't immune. The red, itchy rash is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is part of a group of viruses called herpes viruses. It spreads easily from person to person through the air and physical contact.

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