As the summers are approaching and taking a toll on the temperature, Chicken pox cases are also on the rise. Cases have been reported from various regions of India, including Patna, Gurgaon, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Indore, Agra and Mumbai to name a few.
Also known as varicella, chickenpox is a virus that often affects children. It is characterized by itchy, red blisters that appear all over the body. Chickenpox was once so common it was considered a childhood rite of passage.
Most cases occur through contact with an infected person. The virus may be contagious several days before blisters appear, and it remains contagious until all blisters have crusted over. While symptoms of Chickenpox are often ignored initially, a rash is the most common symptom for Chicken pox, along with other symptoms such as, fever, headache and loss of appetite.
Possible complications of Chicken Pox:
There is a tendency amongst people to assume that chicken pox is normal and that it will pass this phase. But it is important to pay attention to certain symptoms that may indicate that it needs a doctor’s attention:
Complications of chicken pox include effect on lungs and brain, such as pneumonia and encephalitis that can be life-threatening. In case of pregnant women, it can affect the unborn child too. Women exposed during pregnancy may bear children with birth defects, including:
When complications occur, they most often affect:
Prevention from Chicken pox:
Since the chickenpox vaccine was introduced in the mid-1990s, cases have declined. The chickenpox vaccine prevents chickenpox in 90 percent of children who receive it. The shot should be given when your child is between 12 and 15 months of age. A second primary dose is usually given between 4 and 6 years of age, however, there are reports which prove that the second dose gives better protection if given after 3 months, in the 18th month. Older children and adults who have not been vaccinated or exposed may receive catch-up doses of the vaccine. As chickenpox tends to be more severe in older patients, parents who did not previously vaccinate may opt to have the shots given later.
Those who are vaccinated with the two doses of chicken pox vaccine can avoid getting this disease altogether. Many times parents forget the second dose, but this puts the child at risk of infection, so one should remember the second dose to protect the child. This will also avoid unnecessary absenteeism from school, missing examinations etc. from a preventable disease that also causes scarring on the skin. In addition, by vaccination, the further spread of the disease is also prevented. Kids who are older than 6 but younger than 13 who have not had chickenpox should vaccinated with the two doses given at least 3 months apart. Adults; and children 13 years or older (who have never had chickenpox and never received chickenpox vaccine) should get two doses at least 28 days apart. As for Pregnant women, they should wait to get the chickenpox vaccine until after they have given birth. Women should not get pregnant for 1 month after getting the chickenpox vaccine. In a scientific study it has been shown that “Varicella vaccine appears to offer a high degree of protection against varicella; this is higher for more severe forms of the disease, and better with two doses”.
Some parents believe that, if their child has suffered from chickenpox, he/she is immune from it for life. However, reports have shown that a pox affected person is at a risk of developing shingles in older age, typically after 50. If the virus does not completely disappear from the body after one suffers from chicken pox, they may reactivate at some point in the life. The chickenpox vaccination can also help in preventing Shingles as well. Around one in five people who have had chickenpox will develop shingles at some point in their life.
People who are unable to receive the vaccine can try to avoid the virus by limiting contact with infected people. This can be difficult, as chickenpox can’t be identified by blisters until it has been contagious for days.
To protect from chicken pox virus and further Shingles, Vaccination at the right time is a must.
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