Dr Hilda Ganesen

Female Family Physician

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My child has chicken pox after taking the vaccine!!

In view of the recent outbreak in chickenpox this has been a common occurrence with the children in Durban North.  Mother's are often confused as to why the child has chickenpox if the vaccine was administered.

Although some vaccinated children (about 2%) will still get chickenpox, they generally will have a much milder form of the disease, with fewer blisters (typically fewer than 50), lower fever, and a more rapid recovery. The vaccine almost always prevents against severe disease.

Chickenpox is caused by a virus, the varicella-zoster virus. How does chickenpox spread? Chickenpox spreads from person to person by direct contact or through the air by coughing or sneezing. It is highly contagious. It can also be spread through direct contact with the fluid from a blister of a person infected with chickenpox, or from direct contact with a sore from a person with shingles. How long does it take to show signs of chickenpox after being exposed? It takes from 10 to 21 days to develop symptoms after being exposed to a person infected with chickenpox. The usual time period is 14–16 days. What are the symptoms of chickenpox? The most common symptoms of chickenpox are rash, fever, coughing, fussiness, headache, and loss of appetite. The rash usually develops on the scalp and body, and then spreads to the face, arms, and legs. The rash usually forms 200–500 itchy blisters in several successive crops. The illness lasts about 5–10 days.

Complications from Chickenpox:

The most common complication is bacterial infection of the skin or other parts of the body including the bones, lungs, joints, and blood. The virus can also lead to pneumonia or infection of the brain. These complications are rare but serious. Complications are more common in infants, adults, and people with weakened immune systems.

How long is a person with chickenpox contagious?

Patients with chickenpox are contagious for 1–2 days before the rash appears and continue to be contagious through the first 4–5 days or until all the blisters are crusted over.

How do we treat chickenpox?

Most cases of chickenpox in otherwise healthy children are treated with bed rest, fluids, and control of fever. Children with chickenpox should NOT receive aspirin because of possible subsequent risk of Reye's syndrome. Acetaminophen may be given for fever control. Chickenpox may be treated with an antiviral drug in serious cases, depending on the patient's age and health, the extent of the infection, and the timing of the treatment.



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