Paraguay health officials report five new cases of chickenpox were confirmed at the Encarnación Military College for NCOs (COMISOE), located in the district of San Juan del Paraná, department of Itapúa. With this, there are 41 affected registered to date in the military establishment, of which 5 were discharged and 36 remain in isolation.
In addition, 5 cases of chickenpox infection were also identified in four educational institutions in the area. Among those affected are two students between the ages of 12 and 16, and three children between the ages of 4 and 6. The last two cases were identified through the father of the family, who works as a caregiver for the elderly and recently called in sick.
All positive cases of chickenpox are currently in isolation and under follow-up; most were not vaccinated. As a result of the outbreak detected in educational establishments, preventive contact isolation of all students and teachers of the affected grades was recommended, close to 200 in total; Likewise, the continuity of classes virtually, as well as vaccination for all those who do not have the respective doses and do not have a history of chickenpox.
Dr. María Pastora Duarte, head of Itapúa’s Epidemiological Surveillance, pointed out that they will continue with visits to educational and other public institutions to raise awareness about this contagious disease, as well as to capture possible cases. She regretted that, in most of the cases of chickenpox detected, the boys and girls continued to attend school with symptoms of disease, believing that it was a skin allergy.
She emphasized that it is extremely important that cases of chickenpox are detected in the office to assess the severity of the condition, identify warning signs and receive appropriate treatment. “We are interested in the patient reaching the health service to carry out the follow-up and the corresponding interventions, and to detect any sign of seriousness in time,” she said.
The health professional insists on going to the consultation in the presence of fever and skin rashes; likewise, to update the vaccination schedule for boys and girls. He recalled that the chickenpox vaccine is free and is available in Public Health services. This vaccine is applied at 15 months of life and the booster at 5 years of age. He also commented that an immunization strategy called “Vaccine Recovery System” is being carried out, which consists of the application of doses to boys and girls up to 10 years of age who have not yet been vaccinated, including against chickenpox.
Chickenpox (varicella) is easily passed from one person to another through the air by coughing or sneezing or through the fluid from a blister of a person who has chickenpox. Although it is usually not a serious illness, it often causes children and their parents to miss days at school and work. Most cases of chickenpox in healthy children are treated with bed rest, fluids, and fever control.
Chickenpox can be more severe and cause more complications in immunocompromised persons, children younger than 1 year of age and adults. Severe complications include bacterial skin infections, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (infection of the brain) and death.
It is important to be aware that even healthy children and adults may develop serious complications and die from varicella. Another high-risk group is pregnant women who, if they become ill with varicella, can have pregnancy complications. Not only is chickenpox painful, but once you have been infected with chickenpox, you are at risk of getting shingles later in life, which is also very painful and can cause lasting chronic pain in adults.
The chickenpox vaccine is the best way to prevent becoming ill and spreading the varicella virus. It is very safe and prevents almost all cases of severe illness.
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