Chickenpox case found in Madison County

Chickenpox has reared its head in Madison County, with one case being confirmed in Ennis.

Privacy issues prevent health officials from disclosing whether the case is of a Madison County resident, said Theresa Stack, Madison County Public Health administrator. However, in a press release issued this week, Stack said both Jefferson and Madison County officials are “working to reduce the risk of further infection.”

Chickenpox is caused by the varicella virus, which is the same virus that causes shingles in adults. Symptoms of chickenpox include fever, runny nose, irritability and the well-know itchy rash consisting of small red spots that blister.

Most children are vaccinated for chickenpox, Stack said. And all kids should be.

“We shouldn’t have any cases of chicken pox,” she said. “The reason why we do is people don’t immunize.”

Decades ago, chickenpox used to be a right of passage, but the virus has evolved over the years and become more serious.

“What my parents got and what we got is not the same strain of chickenpox we’re seeing now,” Stack said.

Additionally, getting chickenpox will expose children to a higher risk of getting shingles when they’re adults over the age of 50. Shingles can be a very painful illness that has lingering effects, including nerve damage.

“If we can get these viruses out of the kids’ bodies the better they’re going to be when they’re older,” she said.

Plus, many adults have never had chickenpox and getting the illness when you’re older can lead to complications, Stack said.

For more information on the chickenpox or to report an incident, call the Madison County Health Department at 843-4295.

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Chickenpox in Madison County
From the Madison County Public Health Department

The Madison County Public Health Department has confirmed one case of chickenpox (Varicella). Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease but preventable. Unfortunately, the contagious period for chickenpox is 1 to 2 days before the appearance of the rash (blisters) and until the blisters are scabbed over; therefore it is highly likely that infected individuals may not be aware that they have contracted the disease.

Both Jefferson and Madison County Public Health Departments are working together to reduce the risk of further infection. Watch for symptoms that include fever, runny nose, irritability, and a rash consisting of small red spots, which blister over 3-4 days and then scab. The rash is more prevalent on the trunk and body than on the limbs but may appear on the inside of the mouth, ears, and over the scalp. Because of the mouth blisters, chickenpox may also include coughing.

Chickenpox is generally not a serious disease but it is highly contagious. Person to person transmission occurs primarily by direct contact with patients who have it. Chickenpox is transmitted through exposure to infected fluids from the nose, throat, or the skin rash of someone with the chickenpox. This can occur by sharing breathing space (chickenpox is transmitted via the air), by directly touching the infected fluids (droplets), or less frequently from contact with contaminated items.

The incubation period for chickenpox (time for the symptoms to surface after contracting the disease) is 14 to 16 days but can range from 10 to 21 days. The itching from the skin rash can be controlled by cool baths, dabbing the spots with calamine lotion, and avoiding spicy, acidic or hard crunchy foods that may irritate mouth sores. Recovery time is usually 5 to 10 days, or when the rash has scabbed over. Complications of severe cases may include secondary bacterial infections, dehydration, pneumonia, central nervous system problems and even death.

Prevention is the best insurance! The chickenpox vaccine is very effective, with eight to nine of every 10 people vaccinated becoming completely protected. Children should receive their first vaccination for chickenpox between 12 to 15 months of age. A booster shot is also required at least 28 days after the first. Children with only one vaccination are not fully protected. In addition, any individual (of any age) who has had chickenpox is at risk of contracting shingles later in life. Please contact the Madison County Public Health Department for more information or to ensure you and your family is fully immunized and protected from preventable diseases (843-4295; adCoPHD@3Rivers.net).

As a reminder, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are always recommended to aid in the prevention of many contagious diseases including the flu and common cold.

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