More than a dozen new cases of chickenpox

Health authorities are reporting 15 new cases of chickenpox, including 13 which were seen at the polyclinics and two at the Psychiatric Hospital during the first six weeks of 2014.

However, figures just released by the Ministry of Health indicate a declining incidence of    the viral illness over the last four years in particular.

A statement released by the Government Information Service quoted the Senior Medical Officer of Health Dr Karen Springer as saying that 753 cases were in 2009, compared to 279 in 2010; 223 in 2011; 149 in 2012 and 124 in 2013.

Noting that chickenpox was a viral infection that did not respond to antibiotics, Dr Springer also advised that treatment should be based on reducing symptoms such as fever and itchiness.

In instances where a child is infected, she warned that “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 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 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”.

Dr Springer also warned that 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), these symptoms may indicate a bacterial infection.

Chickenpox occurs throughout the year in most countries but is most common during the winter months.

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