Update on Chickenpox

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The Ministry of Health has reported that thirteen cases of chickenpox were seen at the polyclinics and two cases at the Psychiatric Hospital during the first six weeks of 2014.

According to Senior Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Karen Springer, statistics for the past five years show that 313 cases were reported in 2008; 753 in 2009; 279 in 2010; 223 in 2011; 149 in 2012 and 124 in 2013.

???Chickenpox is a viral infection that will not respond to antibiotics, and treatment should be based on reducing symptoms such as fever and itchiness,??? said Dr. Springer.

Noting that home treatments could also be used, Dr. Springer said parents could do several things at home to help relieve their children???s chickenpox symptoms.

She also added, ???Scratching the blisters may cause them to become infected, so keep your child???s fingernails trimmed short.???

The senior health official recommended the use of Calamine Lotion and oatmeal baths to relieve some of the itching and advised individuals not to use aspirin or aspirin-containing products to relieve a child’s fever.

???The use of aspirin in children with chickenpox has been associated with development of Reye???s syndrome (a severe disease affecting all organs, but most seriously affecting the liver and brain that may cause death). Use non-aspirin medications such as Panadol.???

She also stressed that if a child with chicken pox acquired a fever lasting longer than four days, with a tendency to rise above 102??F, a medical doctor should be contacted.

???If the individual with chickenpox seems extremely ill, has difficulty waking up or appears confused, has difficulty walking, has a stiff neck, is vomiting repeatedly, has difficulty breathing, or has a severe cough, a doctor should be called immediately,??? she advised.

Dr. Springer further added that a medical practitioner should be called ???if any area of the rash or any part of the body becomes very red, warm, or tender, or begins leaking pus (thick, discolored fluid), since these symptoms may indicate a bacterial infection???.

While the disease occurs throughout the year in most countries, it is most common during the winter months.

The senior medical official advised that children can be protected from chickenpox by getting the chickenpox (varicella) vaccine which was added to the vaccine schedule in 2012 for children aged 12 to 18 months.

Chicken pox is an acute, infectious disease which is caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It may initially begin with cold-like symptoms, followed by a high temperature and an intensely itchy, vesicular (fluid-filled blister-like) rash.

Clusters of vesicular spots appear over three to five days, mostly over the trunk and more sparsely over the limbs. It is most commonly seen in children under 10 years old. The severity of infection varies and it is possible to be infected but show no symptoms.

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