Abu Dhabi: Even though chickenpox is common these days, it is not an outbreak throughout the UAE; but simply a seasonal illness, said doctors.
Chickenpox is a contagious disease caused by a virus Varicella/herpes zoster. It is spread from child to child, and sometimes to adults, by sneezing, coughing, contaminated clothing and direct contact with open blisters. Children exposed to the virus get chickenpox from 7 to 21 days.
"There is no outbreak of chickenpox in the UAE. It spreads in certain months, and in other months it is non-existent. It's a seasonal illness and it's time to spread is these days," confirmed Dr Zainab Khazaal, Acting Director of Preventive Medicine, Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA).
According to Dr Aigaz Lone, General Practitioner, National Hospital, Chickenpox in the UAE is growing at an alarming rate, especially among labourers.
Lone feels there is a kind of outbreak of chickenpox in the UAE from the increasing number of patients he has recently encountered. "Out of 30 patients, two are usually diagnosed with chickenpox. Almost every day we come across patients with chickenpox. It is mostly common among labourers. People should be very careful. We usually give those who catch the disease a ten-day sick leave," said Lone.
In the past month, Lone has seen roughly 10 cases of people with chickenpox, mostly among adult labourers between the ages of 25 to 35 years old.
According to medical specialists, a chickenpox vaccine is the best way to prevent the illness. Vaccination not only protects the person, it also reduces the risk of exposure for persons unable to be vaccinated because of illness or other conditions, including those who may be at greater risk.
While no vaccine is 100 per cent effective in preventing the disease, the chickenpox vaccine is very effective: about eight to nine of every ten people who are vaccinated are completely protected from chickenpox. In addition, the vaccine almost always prevents against severe disease.
If a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it is usually a very mild case lasting only a few days and involves fewer skin lesions, usually less than 50, mild fever, and few other symptoms.
Symptoms: Helpful tips
The symptoms of chickenpox vary from individual to individual. Some people may experience all of these symptoms while others experience one or two.
The most common symptoms of chickenpox are:
- Mild fever: the fever varies between 101Âº F to 105Âº F and returns to normal when the blisters have disappeared
- Sore throat
- Rash (red spots)
- Blisters filled with fluid
- Do not scratch the scabs and try to stay busy with other activities
- Don't expose yourself to the sun as heat and sweating makes the itching worse
- If you have sores in your mouth, do not eat salty food or citrus fruits that may irritate the sores
- Take a cool bath without soap every 3-4 hours for the first couple of days (15-20 minutes at a time); add one-half cup of baking soda
- Dip a washcloth in cool water and place it on the itchy areas
- Apply calamine (not caladryl) lotion for temporary relief
- Trim your fingernails to prevent infection caused by opened blisters
- Cover your hands with cotton socks if you are scratching your sores
- Wash your hands three times a day with an antibacterial soap to avoid infecting the open blisters
- Take soft foods and cold fluids if you have sores in the mouth
- Gargle with salt water (1/4 teaspoon to 4 ounces of water) to help ease itching in the mouth, if necessary
- Keep reassuring yourself that "bumps" are not serious and will go away in a week or so