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Chickenpox warning issued by Polk Co. Health Dept. | News

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Chickenpox warning issued by Polk Co. Health Dept.
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Bartow, FL -- The Polk County Health Department says there have been several recent cases of chickenpox reported. But the agency says what's most interesting is that the people affected had not been immunized.

The outbreak, they say, should serve as a reminder about the importance of being inoculated against such highly-contagious diseases.

Information from the department follows:

"Recently, the Polk County Health Department investigated a small outbreak of chickenpox, or Varicella, among a group of nine people, most of whom were children.  The investigation revealed that none of these individuals had received the chickenpox vaccine, nor had they previously had the disease.

Fortunately, all of those infected appear to be recovering, and no complications or further infections have occurred.  Others who were in contact with the infected individuals were notified of the possible exposure, provided with information about chickenpox, and advised to consider vaccination.  They were also advised to avoid contact with others, if symptoms did develop.

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV).

It causes a blister-like rash, itching, loss of appetite, tiredness, headache, and fever.

Chickenpox can be serious, especially in babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. It spreads easily from infected people to others who have never had chickenpox, or who have never received the chickenpox vaccine.

Chickenpox spreads in the air through coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread by touching, or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters.

Complications from chicken pox can include pneumonia or additional skin infections.  Rarely, chicken pox can infect the lungs.  Also, other germs living on the skin can cause bacterial infections, called cellulitis, on top of the rash.  Children generally miss 5 to 6 days of school or daycare due to this disease, which may also result in lost work time for parents.

The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine.

Before the vaccine, about four million people got chickenpox each year in the United States.  Of that four million, about 10,600 people would require hospitalization, and 100 to 150 died each year as a result of chickenpox. 

Since the widespread use of the vaccine, the number of cases seen in the United States has been drastically reduced.

For information about chickenpox signs and symptoms, prevention, and treatment, you can go to the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/index.

For information about immunizations or other services provided by the Polk County Health Department, please visit our website at www.mypolkhealth.org.

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