Category Archives: Chickenpox

Chickenpox and Reye’s

Chickenpox Parties; Just Don’t Do It!

Just Don't Do It!

Just Don’t Do It!

The National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation Does Not Condone Chicken Pox Parties! They can be Deadly!

Sharing body fluids from other children puts your child at great and deadly risk, not to mention this is a Federal Offense according to Homeland Security.

The intentional spreading of any virus, or viral infection, and the mailing or transporting of such, falls under Bio-Terrorism Laws and the FBI and Homeland Security are going to want to talk to those involved. You have no idea what other conditions exist in that swab or sucker. Just don’t do it!

For the sake of your child’s life, and the lives of other children, pregnant women, and Immunocompromised Persons, just don’t do it!

We have seen places on the Internet that offer chickenpox parties, and we know the FBI gets involved. Some people do this as a ‘scam’, charging unsuspecting and uneducated parents more than $100.00 for a swab, or sucker, and parents have no idea what they are really getting. Is that swab or sucker HIV contaminated? Herpes contaminated? Some other disease contaminated? And you are going to risk giving it to your precious child?

Risks of Chicken Pox Parties:

  • * A child will often get 300 to 500 blisters during the infection, but can have up to 1500; these crust over and fall off in one to two weeks.
    * Varicella can be severe and even fatal in otherwise healthy children (but less than 1 out of every 10,000 cases).
    * Chickenpox can cause pneumonia (23 out of every 10,000 cases).
    * Bacterial infections of the blisters (usually impetigo) occur commonly (up to 5% of cases).
    * Chickenpox is an important risk factor for severe invasive group A streptococcal disease, which can be fatal.
    * Other complications of varicella include decreased platelets, arthritis, hepatitis, and brain inflammation.
    * In immunocompromised persons of all ages, varicella may be fatal.
    * The virus which causes chickenpox remains in the body for life and may reappear as shingles, particularly in the elderly.
    * A woman who contracts chickenpox in early pregnancy can pass the virus to her fetus, causing abnormalities in 2% of cases.

Measles, mumps, rubella, and varicella are 4 common childhood diseases caused by measles virus, mumps virus, rubella virus, and varicella virus, respectively. These diseases may be associated with serious complications and, or, death. For example, measles can be associated with pneumonia and encephalitis; mumps can be associated with aseptic meningitis, deafness, and orchitis; rubella occurring during pregnancy can cause congenital rubella syndrome in the infants of infected mothers; and wild-type varicella can be associated with bacterial superinfection, pneumonia, encephalitis, and Reye’s Syndrome.

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, 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 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.

While staph infections of the skin are common in infants and young children, they usually are mild. However, chickenpox blisters can provide a place for staph bacteria to enter the skin, and a serious infection can develop quickly. It’s common for chickenpox blisters to be close together and when the staph infection penetrates the skin, the skin around the infected area simply dies and falls off.

Download our ChickenPox Party Handout

Most children with chickenpox completely recover. But it can be serious, even fatal, for babies, adolescents, and adults.

Signs & Symptoms

Anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine can get the disease. Chickenpox most commonly causes an illness that lasts about 5-10 days.

The classic symptom of chickenpox is a rash that turns into itchy, fluid-filled blisters that eventually turn into scabs. The rash may first show up on the face, chest, and back then spread to the rest of the body, including inside the mouth, eyelids, or genital area. It usually takes about one week for all the blisters to become scabs.

Other typical symptoms that may begin to appear 1-2 days before rash include:
* high fever

* tiredness
* loss of appetite
* headache

Children usually miss 5 to 6 days of school or childcare due to their chickenpox.

NEVER give a child aspirin, or any aspirin containing product who has the chickenpox, or who might be exposed to chicken pox!

Vaccinated Persons:

Some people who have been vaccinated against chickenpox can still get the disease. However, the symptoms are usually milder with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. About 25% to 30% of vaccinated people who get chickenpox will develop illness as serious as chickenpox in unvaccinated persons.

People at Risk for Severe Chickenpox:

Some people who get chickenpox may have more severe symptoms and may be at higher risk for complications. Complications from chickenpox can occur, but they are not as common in otherwise healthy people who get the disease.

People who may have more severe symptoms and may be at high risk for complications include:

* Infants
* Adolescents
* Adults
* Pregnant women
* People with weakened immune systems because of illness or medications; for example,
o People with HIV/AIDS or cancer
o Patients who have had transplants, and
o People on chemotherapy, immunosuppressive medications, or long-term use of steroids.

People at High Risk for Complications:
* Immunocompromised Persons
* People with HIV or AIDS
* Pregnant Women

Immunocompromised Persons

Immunocompromised persons who get varicella are at risk of developing visceral dissemination (VZV infection of internal organs) leading to pneumonia, hepatitis, encephalitis, and disseminated intravascular coagulopathy. They can have an atypical varicella rash with more lesions, and they can be sick longer than immunocompetent persons who get varicella. The lesions may continue to erupt for as long as 10 days, may appear on the palms and soles, and may be hemorrhagic.

People with HIV or AIDS

Children with HIV infection tend to have atypical rash with new crops of lesions presenting for weeks or months. HIV-infected children may develop chronic infection in which new lesions appear for more than one month. The lesions may initially be typical maculopapular vesicular lesions but can later develop into non-healing ulcers that become necrotic, crusted, and hyperkeratotic. This is more likely to occur in HIV-infected children with low CD4 counts.

Some studies have found that VZV dissemination to the visceral organs is less common in children with HIV than in other immunocompromised patients with VZV infection. The rate of complications may also be lower in HIV-infected children on antiretroviral therapy or HIV-infected persons with higher CD4 counts at the time of varicella infection. Retinitis can occur among HIV-infected children and adolescents.

Most adults, including those who are HIV-positive have already had varicella disease and are VZV seropositive. As a result, varicella is relatively uncommon among HIV-infected adults.

Pregnant Women

Pregnant women who get varicella are at risk for serious complications; they are at increased risk for developing pneumonia, and in some cases, may die as a result of varicella.

If a pregnant woman gets varicella in her 1st or early 2nd trimester, her baby has a small risk (0.4 – 2.0 percent) of being born with congenital varicella syndrome. The baby may have scarring on the skin, abnormalities in limbs, brain, and eyes, and low birth weight.

If a woman develops varicella rash from 5 days before to 2 days after delivery, the newborn will be at risk for neonatal varicella. In the absence of treatment, up to 30% of these newborns may develop severe neonatal varicella infection.

Some people should not get chickenpox vaccine or should wait:

* People should not get chickenpox vaccine if they have ever had a life-threatening allergic reaction to a previous dose of chickenpox vaccine or to gelatin or the antibiotic neomycin.
* People who are moderately or severely ill at the time the shot is scheduled should usually wait until they recover before getting chickenpox vaccine.
* Pregnant women should wait to get chickenpox vaccine until after they have given birth. Women should not get pregnant for 1 month after getting chickenpox vaccine.
* Some people should check with their doctor about whether they should get chickenpox vaccine, including anyone who:
o Has HIV/AIDS or another disease that affects the immune system
o Is being treated with drugs that affect the immune system, such as steroids, for 2 weeks or longer
o Has any kind of cancer
o Is getting cancer treatment with radiation or drugs
* People who recently had a transfusion or were given other blood products should ask their doctor when they may get chickenpox vaccine.

Ask your health provider for more information.

Treatments at Home for People with Chickenpox

There are several things that can be done at home to help relieve the symptoms and prevent skin infections. Calamine lotion and colloidal oatmeal baths may help relieve some of the itching. Keeping fingernails trimmed short may help prevent skin infections caused by scratching blisters.

Use non-aspirin medications, such as acetaminophen, to relieve fever from chickenpox.

Do not use aspirin or aspirin-containing products to relieve fever from chickenpox. The use of aspirin in children with chickenpox has been associated with Reye’s Syndrome, a severe disease that affects the liver and brain and can cause death.

When to Call the Health Care Provider:

For people with chickenpox at risk of serious complications, call a health care provider if the person:
* is older than 12 years of age

* has a weakened immune system
* is pregnant
* develops any of the following:
o fever that lasts longer than 4 days
o fever that rises above 102°F (38.9°C)
o any areas of the rash or any part of the body becomes very red, warm, or tender, or begins leaking pus (thick, discolored fluid), since these symptoms may indicate a bacterial infection
o extreme illness
o difficult waking up or confused demeanor
o difficulty walking
o stiff neck
o frequent vomiting
o difficulty breathing
o severe cough

Treatments Prescribed by Your Doctor for People with Chickenpox:

Your health care provider can advise you on treatment options. Antiviral medications are recommended for people with chickenpox who are more likely to develop serious disease including:
* otherwise healthy people older than 12 years of age

* people with chronic skin or lung disease
* people receiving steroid therapy
* some groups of pregnant women

Other Sources: CDC | Wikipedia Kids Health.Org |Download our ChickenPox Party Handout

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Managing Chicken Pox in Children


***  The first thing you need to know about Chicken Pox, is DON’T give a child aspirin or an aspirin containing product!  This could trigger Reye’s Syndrome, a deadly disease for which there is no cure.

***  The second thing you need to know is DON’T participate in Chicken Pox parties!  Doing so could kill your child!  These are so very dangerous and parents don’t realize just how many children die from chicken pox complications every year.

***  The third thing you need to know is keep your child at home if you suspect chicken pox.  Your child may only appear to have a mild case, but if you run to the store with that child and you could expose others – most horribly a pregnant mom – or another child with a fragile immune system – and there could be deadly consequences to others. 

Chickenpox affects around 90 per cent of children 12 and under, and is often the first serious illness a child experiences. Chickenpox often occurs in outbreaks and there is a seasonal element with peaks in winter and early spring.

There is NO cure for Chicken Pox – including any proclaimed cure-all like “neem” or any other herbal remedy!  Neem and other products like it usually contain salicylate; the active ingredient in aspirin!!  So DON’T buy into any ‘quick fix’ touted by anyone on the Internet or elsewhere!  This is your child’s life, talk to your doctor before you give your child anything and make sure what you give your child does not contain aspirin!

The chickenpox virus
The varicella zoster (VZ) virus causes chickenpox (varicella) and is highly infectious. It is transmitted through airborne droplets, direct contact with vesicle fluid or indirect contact with infected clothes, bedding or other items like toys. It is rare to have chickenpox more than once, the first infection with the VZ virus usually provides a lifelong immunity to further infection.

Shingles is often a by-product of Chicken Pox. After recovery from chickenpox infection, the VZ virus lies dormant in the sensory nervous system and can re-emerge as shingles (herpes zoster) in 20 per cent of adults over the age of 60, but Shingles is seen in all age groups, usually over 30.

Chicken Pox Symptoms and Diagnosis
The first symptoms of chickenpox include a low grade fever and mild flu-like symptoms. Child often feel “irritable or unsettled”. These symptoms are followed by a rash up to six days later. Over the next three to five days, crops of small spots (macules) appear. The spots tend to start behind the ears, on the face or on the trunk and then spread to other areas of the body.

After a few hours the spots become fluid filled blisters, which then develop into pustules which crust over before healing.

When chickenpox is at its peak, there are lesions in all stages of development from new spots to crusted over spots. The lesions are very itchy at all stages and the total time of affliction is around two to three weeks.

There is a large variation between children in the number of spots that occur. Some children may only have a few spots and chickenpox may not even be clinically obvious, whereas other children are completely covered.

When making a diagnosis, it is more likely that a child has chickenpox if he or she has been in contact with other children or family members who have recently had the virus. If one person in a household has chickenpox, there is a 90 per cent chance that other household members who have not had chicken pox will come down with chickenpox.

Some children feel quite unwell for a few days whereas others appear only slightly ill. Most children feel much better within a week.

Incubation Period
The time from catching the virus to the emergence of symptoms (the incubation period) is usually 10-14 days but may be as long as 21 days. However, children are only infectious for about 48 hours before the spots begin to appear and until five to six days after the first appearance of the spots.

Chicken pox is a virus and there is no cure for it:

1.    Make sure your child drinks plenty of water
2.    Ask your pharmacist for advice about giving children medication if your child has a fever – NO ASPIRIN, OR ASPIRIN PRODUCT! READ THE LABEL!
3.    Dress your child in light, loose fitting clothing
4.    Keep your child’s fingernails clean and short to help prevent deep scratching
5.    Apply a lotion to help relieve chickenpox itching – make sure this lotion does NOT contain aspirin – read the label!
6.    Keep your child at home and away from others – especially pregnant women, and other fragile children and adults

Calamine lotion and creams are often used in chickenpox although there is no evidence of efficacy, but the process of evaporation does give a cooling effect. It is inexpensive but can be messy to apply.

When to See Your Doctor:
Parents of a child with chickenpox should contact their child’s doctor if the child:

1.    Is under 4 weeks old
2.    Has breathing difficulties
3.    Has chest pains
4.    Has skin blisters which become infected and look yellow and pus-filled
5.    Has convulsions
6.    Is unable to take fluids due to a severe rash in the mouth
7.    Has a temperature above 38ºC which doesn’t respond to normal cooling down methods
8.    Has vomiting, listlessness, confusion

In Summation:
Most children will contract chickenpox before their teens and generally it is a mild, although highly infectious disease. Management of symptoms, particularly itchy spots is key to ensure minimum discomfort for the infected child.  If you use a caregiver while the child is home sick, please be sure they, too, understand NOT to give the child aspirin, or any aspirin containing product.

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