Chickenpox Outbreak

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There was a chickenpox outbreak recently at my son’s school and ten kids affected by chickenpox in his class. I was wondering how this could happen in just four weeks when my eight years old son already had the compulsory vaccination here in Victoria, Australia when he was 18 months old.

On the early stage when it happened, the teacher told the parents via this parent-teacher communication phone’s app, that there’s a child with confirmed case of chickenpox. Two weeks later there was two children, then the following weeks another 2 children and so on.

On the fourth week, on Saturday night, after he came back from his friend’s house, he said to my husband that he has pimple on his back. I was laughing, his teenage years still far in the future, he can’t have pimples! My husband, who never ever get any chickenpox before, examined him. He said “It’s already popped”. But my son said, there’s another one on his upper back. I started to panic after that. I approached and asked him to take off all his clothes. And right in front of me, there were not less than ten blisters all over his body and face in total. I told him nicely that I think he got chickenpox. Apparently this news was making him scared. He was crying and said “I don’t want to die, Mommy”. I was laughing a bit inside and said “You got nothing to worry about. You already had vaccination when you were little. So it will be a mild sickness for you”. Then he stopped crying after I hugged him tight despite those blisters on his body. My husband ran away, nowhere to be found.

Then I booked an appointment online to our family doctor for the next day, just to confirm that it is indeed chickenpox and to get doctor’s certificate for my son to be absent from school.

The next morning, my research about chickenpox began.
[Source: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/chickenpox]

Chickenpox (varicella) is a highly contagious viral disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). The main symptom is a blistering, itchy skin rash. Outbreaks are more common in winter and early spring. Children and adults can be immunised against chickenpox.

For chickenpox, the time from infection to the appearance of the rash (incubation period) is around 14 to 16 days. A few days before the appearance of the rash, the person may feel feverish and have a sore throat and headache. The skin may be marked for some months after the rash has cleared.

Second day. Photo by Ipei.

Children with chickenpox should not go to school, kindergarten or childcare until the last blister has dried. Tell your child’s school, kindergarten or childcare if your child has chickenpox, as other children may need to be immunised or treated.

The symptoms of chickenpox include:

  1. Low-grade fever (my son had it two weeks before the blister arrived)
  2. General discomfort, illness or lack of well being (malaise) (well i thought it’s from hay fever that we usually get during Spring)
  3. Intensely itchy skin rash — appears as small blisters surrounded by irregularly-shaped patches of inflamed skin. The blisters first form on the body and later on the head and limbs. They usually burst and develop crusts after about five days. (Yes, they are itchy and hurt as my son reported. It started to develop crusts after 5th day and new blister still develop as well but smaller one)
  4. Ulcers may develop in certain areas, including the mouth and private part (yes, both happened to my son)

We went to the doctor in the morning. I called the reception that my son maybe got chickenpox, she said that my son need to stay in the car to be isolated from other patients who visit the clinic. When it was his turn then he can come to the clinic. The doctor examine him by just looking on his blisters and it’s confirmed that it is chickenpox. He took a sample of the rash by swab a cotton bud and send the sample to the laboratory, just to make sure it is chickenpox and not some other dangerous disease (such as meningococcal). He gave instruction for my son to stay at school for one week, then we will meet again after the lab result comes out.

My husband asked the doctor, how about him who never get chickenpox before, does he need to be vaccinated now? The doctor just shook his head. He said, there’s no point. By now, my husband might already caught it or not. It’s a waiting game for him.

We went home and the nightmare started. Pain started to build up on my son’s body, more blisters came up. My husband hid himself in our room while I tend for my son. Everyday for five days, I bathed him with goat soap and Epsom Salts (what I have at home), some says you can use baking soda as well to speed up the treatment (https://authorityremedies.com/home-remedies-for-chickenpox). After a bath, I put Calamine lotion on the blisters. It helped him a little when he put the lotion by himself. Put the calamine lotion on a small container then use cotton bud to apply it on the skin. He did his front and I did his back. He changed his clothes everyday, I separated the clothes from my husband’s and washed them with hot water. At night time, I gave him Antihistamine to reduce the itchiness and Paracetamol for the pain, so he can sleep.

Chickenpox can be transmitted through airborne droplets of an infected person (sneeze or cough) or touching the fluid from the blisters on the skin of a person with chickenpox (my husband did this on the first day).

An infected person is contagious for one to two days (possibly five days) before the onset of the rash and remains infectious until the blisters form scabs (usually around day five of the illness).

Maybe this is how the child who first got chickenpox in my son’s school infected his/her friends, he/she didn’t have the rash before it’s too late.

Three days after the sample sent to the lab, we got the result. Drum roll everyone… It is CHICKENPOX. Luckily nothing else detected. The doctor told us to take another one week off from school just to make sure all blisters dried up. My son was ecstatic! Another week playing games and watching movies all day as I wrote this article in peace.

Seventh day. Photo by Ipei.

My son was bored yesterday, so he made this sign in front of my husband’s and my bedroom: “NO (my son’s name) here!” Just to annoy his dad. We made a joke of his dad that his love for us just as deep as the chickenpox. Well let’s just see if there’ll be another patient in the house or not! Hopefully none! (Ipei)

Credit: Illustration designed by brgfx|Freepik

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