Several hospitals in the city have reported a rise in number of chickenpox cases over recent weeks. Doctors said they were dealing with five to 10 new cases in the out patients department every day.
Doctors said though chickenpox cases are mostly reported in March, this year marks a departure from the trend. According to figures released by the health department, as many as 95 chickenpox cases were reported in January alone.
“This is a contagious disease and can spread fast in winter as well. We are dealing with more than five new cases every day, which is unusually high for this season. We fear the number of cases will go up further by March,” Dr Neeraj Mehta, skin specialist, civil hospital, said.
Doctors at private hospitals, too, reported an unusually high count of chickenpox cases. They said there has been a significant rise in the number of patients coming in with chickenpox and herpes. About 10 new cases of chickenpox and another half-a-dozen cases of Herpes are being registered in every day. Both these diseases are caused by the same family of Zoster virus, Dr. Amitabh Parti, additional director, internal medicine, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurgaon, said.
Elaborating on these diseases, doctors said, while Varicella Zoster causes chickenpox, herpes is caused by Herpes zoster (shingles). In both the diseases, rashes appear all over the body which are highly communicable.
Dr Parti, said, “Chickenpox is a highly communicable disease. The patient or an individual suspected of infection should be kept in isolation or under observation (in suspected cases). The patient’s clothing should be washed separately and exposed to bright sunlight to destroy the virus. We must ensure the elderly and infants are kept away from an infected person. Patients with low immunity are more prone to getting the disease. Only an individual who has either been vaccinated or has developed immunity from an earlier infection should attend to a patient.”
Though chickenpox is not life-threatening and the patient recovers after a brief incubation spell, in some cases, especially in adults, chickenpox can cause serious complications such as pneumonia or very rarely encephalitis, doctors said.
Residents have been advised that any signs of infection, including rashes, should be reported to a doctor at the earliest.
Chickenpox could trigger health complications if it occurs in infants, elderly patients and pregnant women. Therefore, such people have been advised to exercise greater caution against the disease, doctors said.
“We are advising patients with chickenpox to remain indoors and isolated to avoid transmission of the virus,” Dr Satish Koul, consultant – internal medicine, Columbia Asia Hospital, Gurgaon, said.
This article was published in Hindustan Times dated ‘Feb. 03, 2017’