Island Health is reminding parents to make sure their children are up to date on their immunizations after it was reported that a letter to parents warned of chickenpox in an Esquimalt elementary school.
Chickenpox is not a reportable illness, so there aren’t any statistics but it has been noted since immunization started the illness has become much less common.
Chickenpox is an infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus with symptoms including fever, aches, tiredness, headache, loss of appetite and red spots on the face, scalp, torso, arms and legs. The spots are very itchy and will look like blisters, filled with clear fluid.
Chickenpox can cause problems for pregnant women, newborns, teens and adults, along with people who have immune system problems that make it hard for the body to fight infections.
While the illness is not normally serious in healthy children, people who have contracted it should avoid new settings to avoid infecting new contacts.
A child with chickenpox may not need to stay home from school if they are feeling well. Once you’ve had chickenpox, you aren’t likely to get it again but the virus can stay in your body long after you get over the illness. If the virus becomes active again, it can cause a painful viral infection called shingles.
Chickenpox can be spread through sneezes, coughs, by sharing drink and food and through psychical contact with the fluid from a chickenpox blister.
You are at risk for chickenpox if you’ve never had the illness and haven’t been vaccinated. If someone you live with gets chickenpox, your risk is even higher because of the close contact.
Treatments include resting and taking medication to reduce the fever and itching. Soaking in oatmeal baths has been known to help with the itching.
For more information about chickenpox visit www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/hw208307.
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