AdventHealth reports 700 percent increase in chickenpox cases

Central Florida clinics are seeing a 700 percent increase in chickenpox cases.

AdventHealth says that in the last two weeks, the number of chickenpox cases at AdventHealth Centra Care locations have increased 700 percent. They described this jump as startling.

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It reportedly causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. The disease can be serious, especially in babies, adults, and people with weakend immune systems. It spreads easily through the air from infected people to others who have never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine. 

Dr. Timothy Hendrix says in the last two weeks, he's seen seven times the number of cases of chickenpox diagnosed at his CentraCare clinics in Central Florida.That's a 7-hundred percent increase. 

"It's not a common occurrence to see children or adults with chickenpox just because we're all vaccinated against it."

The Mayo Clinic classifies the virus as rare with less than 200,000 cases in the U.S. per year. The CDC says chickenpox infections went down 90 percent since the vaccine came out in the early 90s. 

So why the sudden surge? 

"This is a highly contagious virus," Dr. Hendrix said, adding that it is possibly coming from international tourists where the chickenpox vaccine isn't common. 

But he says these new cases make him concerned for the number of children that are not getting their vaccines. 

"Can get complications like infections and encephalitis which is a neurologic inflammation of the brain."

There are documented cases of families opting out of the chickenpox vaccines just like the measles shot and others. Just like those illnesses, Dr. Hendrix said a resurgence of this could be deadly. 

AdventHealth says that the best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. However, some people who have been vaccinated can still get the disease. Most people who get the chickenpox are immune for life. It is not common to get it more than once, but for those who do, it is usually milder with fewer blisters and less fever.

If a person who is older than 12-years-old is infected with the chickenpox, AdventHealth advises that the person call a healthcare provider. They also say to watch out for the following symptoms:

  • Fever that lasts longer than 4 days.
  • Fever that rises above 102°F (38.9°C).
  • Any areas of the rash or any part of the body becomes very red, warm, or tender, or begins leaking pus, since these symptoms may indicate a bacterial infection
  • Extreme illness.
  • Difficult waking up or confused demeanor.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Frequent vomiting.
  • Difficulty breathing.

Once someone has the chickenpox, AdventHealth says that it cannot be stopped. It can be treated though with cool baths and calamine lotion.

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