‘Vaccines, weather to blame for rising chicken pox cases’


Express News Service

Posted online: Saturday, July 12, 2008 at 0312 hrs IST

Chandigarh, July 11
Doctors blame the surge in cases of chicken pox this season on the indiscriminate administration of vaccines to young children. The vaccines apparently kill anti-bodies in humans, bringing down the body’s ability to resist infection on its own.

The prolonged humid weather in the city is also partly to blame for the increased number of cases, say doctors. The humidity acts as a conduit for the quick spread of the infection.

“Parents, in the hope that their children do not suffer from chicken pox, get them vaccinated at a very young age. We do not recommend this at all. It is better if the chicken pox virus affects children early in life as it will enable them to develop anti-bodies to help fight infections at a later stage,” said Dr Sadbhavna Pandit, Senior Medical Officer Paediatrics, GMCH, Sector 16.

“The virus is highly contagious and the children who do not possess natural immunity (due to the vaccines administered to them) can easily be infected with chicken pox. This is precisely what is happening in the region. There has been a significant shift in the epidemiology of the disease,” she added.

Dr Sanjay Bhalerao, head of the Paediatrics department at Fortis Hospital, Mohali, agreed that cases of chicken pox are on the rise.

“The virus is very active this year and is infecting the young and the old alike. Vaccination at an early stage could be one of the reasons for surge but the matter requires more research.”

This year, the city has reported over 600 cases — a significant increase over last year. Doctors, however, are quick to add that the disease has not presumed the proportions of an epidemic yet.

Doctors say there is no need to panic if the virus affects a child under 10 years.

But onset of the infection at an older age is cause for concern as it may turn fatal, said a doctor.

* Body rashes mark the onset of chicken pox. The virus attacks about two days before these appear. The infection takes a minimum of two weeks to subside.
* A patient may suffer from nausea, fever, body ache, headache and loss of appetite.

* Avoid eating outside food
* Drink only boiled water
* Parents must ensure that children are not exposed to any sudden change in temperature