Spike in chicken pox cases: 300 so far, one patient dies

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Updated: May 22 2014, 10:35am hrs
The MCDs Maharishi Valmiki Infectious Disease (MVID) hospital has confirmed the death of one patient this month.

Chicken pox is an airborne viral disease. While cases are reported every year during a change in season, health authorities are reporting a rise in cases this time, particularly among adults, a health official at North corporation said.

The MVID has so far confirmed 290 cases this year. This excludes figures for May. We are monitoring mosquito-borne diseases, including dengue and malaria every year. From now on, we have started monitoring monthly reports of chicken pox also, the official said.

Cases of chicken pox are on the rise in the capital, with nearly 300 cases already reported.

Doctors said the virus manifests itself much stronger in adults, with longer episodes of the disease, than in children. But death from the disease is rare.

Chicken pox is one virus which is manageable much more easily in children since the symptoms are milder. In adults, particularly patients with diabetes and heart diseases and pregnant women, the symptoms may get aggravated and cause respiratory problems, including pneumonia, or affect the brain, causing meningitis-like symptoms, which may lead to death. But this is very rare, D S Chatterjee from Apollo Hospital, said.

There is no reason for alarm yet because every year cases are reported around this time... but it is a fact that it is more difficult to manage the symptoms in adults, Dr Chatterjee said.

Treatment for the disease is symptomatic like in other viral diseases and may include routine antiviral drugs for adults to slow down the progression of the virus, and painkillers and antihistamines to relieve itching in patients.

The disease causes rashes like chick peas and ulcers in the mouth, and a diagnosed patient is contagious until the rashes dry and the skin over them peels off.

Many doctors advise vaccination to control the spread of the virus.

Fatality in chicken pox is very rare... But the vaccine is not a routine vaccine, which should be taken by everybody. It is advised for adults, particularly health professionals who come in contact with patients. So, if there is a case in the family it is a good idea for others in the family to get vaccinated, Dr Sandeep Budhiraja, head of internal medicine at Max hospital in Saket, said.

For children, a two-dose vaccine is prescribed by doctors.

But many doctors say the vaccine does not give 100 per cent protection.

I have seen cases of chicken pox manifesting in patients who have been vaccinated, but the symptoms are usually milder in these cases, Dr Chatterjee said.