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Home / Health / Why "chicken pox parties" are a terrible idea – if it's not obvious

Why "chicken pox parties" are a terrible idea – if it's not obvious



   A child with chickenpox.
Enlarge / A child with chickenpox. Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin made headlines on Tuesday after he revealed in a radio interview that he had purposely exposed his nine unvaccinated children to chickenpox and was quickly condemned by health professionals.

If someone needs education about why you should not do this, deprive children of safe, potentially life-saving vaccines, or expose them to intentionally severe, potentially life-threatening infections, here's a quick rundown.

Chickenpox is nothing special

Although most children get itchy, contagious viral disease If you recover after about a week of misery, chickenpox can cause serious complications and in some cases even death. Complications include nasty skin infections, pneumonia, brain inflammation, bleeding, blood infections and dehydration.

If the infection occurs early in pregnancy there is little chance of birth defects, including abnormally shaped limbs, brain, eyes and skull, and mental disabilities. In a stroke just before birth, a newborn has a 30 percent chance of getting a severe form of the disease that can be fatal.

Newborns at increased risk of severe chickenpox complications include adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people who have a weakened immune system, such as cancer patients with chemotherapy, transplant patients, and those with HIV / AIDS.

But even healthy children can develop complications. There is no way to predict the severity of the infection in advance.

And the fight is not over after chickenpox. Then there is shingles

The same virus that causes chickenpox causes shingles or zoster. After the chicken pox has subsided, the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) slumbers. It hides in ganglia of the dorsal root, the nerves that transmit signals to the spinal cord. The VZV may respond later on in life to shingles, which often manifest as an incredibly painful, sometimes itchy rash on the trunk of the body.

Shingles is also nothing but Ars & # 39; s own editor Eric Bangeman can attest. He struggled with the resurgence in the fall of 201

5 and described it as "several days of acute misery accompanied by a few weeks of grumpy feeling."

Shingles also has the potential to cause complications. The most common disease, which occurs in about 13 percent or more of shingles, is postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which continues for weeks, months, or even years around the rash after the rash has disappeared. There is also the possibility that shingles can lead to bacterial superinfections on the skin rash and to problems with the eyes, which can lead to vision loss, inflammation of the brain or the liver and to nerve paralysis.

Of course almost everything can be avoided because …

There are vaccines for it

The chickenpox vaccine – also called varicella vaccine – was introduced in 1995 in the USA. He is safe and highly effective. Two doses of it are up to 98 percent effective to prevent all forms of chickenpox. In the rare cases in which a vaccinated person still gets chickenpox, the disease is very mild. The vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing severe forms of the disease.

In the years before the vaccine was available, there were an average of 4 million cases of chickenpox a year in the United States. This resulted in an average of 10,500 to 13,000 hospital admissions and 100 to 150 deaths per year, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the availability of the vaccine, cases of chickenpox in 31 monitored states fell by 79 percent between 2000 and 2010. The deaths from the disease fell by 87 percent between four years before and after the vaccine's arrival.

The vaccine contains a critically-attenuated VZV that causes a latent infection. This can reactivate later in life to cause shingles. In a recent study, children who had been vaccinated against chickenpox had a 79 percent lower chance of getting shingles than those who had chickenpox.

In addition, there are now two vaccines that prevent shingles in older adults. The currently preferred vaccine is the recombinant zoster vaccine Shingrix, which is more than 90 percent effective after two doses to prevent shingles.

This should make "chickenpox parties" obsolete, if not just dangerous

You may have thought that it is a good idea to deliberately expose your children to chickenpox to make sure they have the disease before they get older, if it leads to complications. As mentioned earlier, chickenpox can be severe even in healthy children, and it is impossible to tell in advance how serious these cases will be. In addition, with the advent of safe and effective vaccines, there is no reason to expose children to an avoidable infectious disease that, even in mild cases, causes hundreds of excruciating, itchy blisters along with fever, malaise and headache.

But this is not the case only about your child

Vaccinations protect vulnerable individuals, including those who can not receive vaccines because of ailments, or those at risk of immunodeficiency. Even if the children at the parties have light falls and fully recover, as with the children of Gov. Bevin was the case, the parties can circulate the virus.

The risk of chickenpox spreading further hits home for Italy The politician Massimiliano Fedriga, who contracted the disease last week after he passed a law against schoolchildren vaccinations.

The prominent Italian microbiologist Roberto Burioni responded in a Facebook post and noted that the situation was unfavorable for Fedriga, but also the situation was unfavorable. Even more tragic, for example, when the virus has spread to a fetus or a child, undergoing a transplant.

"We only have to avoid these tragedies (because they are tragedies) by getting all of us vaccinated to prevent the circulation of this dangerous virus that could have hit a much more vulnerable person," he wrote.


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