26 May 2011
The chicken pox virus is on the prowl. Clinics and hospitals across the city have reported the infectious disease caused by varicella zoster virus, characterised by fever, body ache and rashes.
"Being an airborne disease, this can infect anybody, but children are more prone," says Dr L Venkatesh of Apollo Hospitals. Summer is the season for such infectious diseases. Most children with chicken pox have headache, high fever, tummy ache and loss of appetite. These symptoms last for two to four days before rashes break out.
Dr Priya Chandrasekar of Indira Child Care says the number of cases this time is larger than last summer. "I have had about 10 cases in the last two weeks," she says. Dr M Jayakumar of Apollo Children’s Hospital says he has seen 20 children with the infection in one month.
The viral infection spreads quickly and can affect adults also. Treatment is limited to bringing down the symptoms as chicken pox is essentially a self-limiting disease that runs its course. Preventive vaccines are available in the market.
Dr S Geetha from Muthu Pharmacy says, "Antiviral tablets and vaccination are the two best ways to make sure a child or patient with chicken pox doesn’t suffer major complications."
Dr V Ramasubramanian, senior consultant of infectious diseases at Apollo Hospitals underscores the need for precaution. "Everyone above the age of ten should get vaccinated to prevent chicken pox and such infections during summer," he says. Dr T Rajagopal, a physician, says chicken pox, measles occur during summer since the viruses find the heat optimum to thrive.
Anti-viral drugs given within 72 hours prevent the formation of scars. Dr Rajagopal says the course of the disease can be shortened with drugs.
Bug In The Air
- Chicken pox is a highly contagious airborne disease caused by the varicella zoster virus
- Vaccinations can prevent infection
- Antiviral drugs bring down the duration of rashes and prevents complications