With the sudden rise in temperature Mumbai is witnessing an unusual spurt of chickenpox cases. According to the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai’s (BMC) epidemiology department, in February 432 chickenpox cases were reported, while in March, the number rose to 667. The recent figure for the year 2017 is much higher, as compared to last year. As of 2016 in the months between January to April a total of 500 cases were reported.
Dr Minnie Khetrapal, Head of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) Epidemiology Cell said “Chickenpox cases generally rise up in summer. There have been many cases reported in the past two to three weeks. Chickenpox is a highly contagious and can easily spread through direct contact or airborne transmission of water droplets by sneezing or coughing. The best thing which you can do is, not to go out when you have chickenpox, as you may transmit the virus to others”.
Four year old Dahisar resident, Hrudhan Kanekar was diagnosed chickenpox on April 8. “I observed red boils on his skin and wondered what it could be; we immediately rushed to the doctors. Our suspicion was true. He had chickenpox. Now, it’s been five days and he is doing better now. Proper medication, a healthy diet, taking a bath twice a day along with maintaining hygiene are the measures I put in place to protect him,” said Vaidehi Kanekar, Hrudhan’s mother.
Vaidehi added, “Before Hrudhan my husband was diagnosed chickenpox on March 25. And that is how the infection spread to my son.”
But Hrudhan is not the only one who is suffering from chickenpox.
In another case seven year old Raadni Wani from Titwala got infected on March 31. “It’s been eight days now and she has completely recovered. Chickenpox is quite common in summer and children easily get affected. The doctor advised us to avoid the heat as much as possible and include oranges, sugarcane and green vegetables in her diet,” said Jayesh Wani, Raddni’s father.
Dr Anil Pachnekar, former President of Indian Medical Association (IMA), said, “Earlier we would get one case, but now we are receiving three to four cases daily. Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection.”
“Though 90 per cent of cases are from paediatric age group between 1 and 14, 10 per cent of cases are witnessed in adults aged between 25 and 30,” said Pachnekar.
So far, a large number of the cases have been reported from Sion, Dadar, Parel and Lalbaug areas which happen to be highly congested areas.
With the sudden change is weather conditions, doctors have advised to take precautions.
“Eat a healthy diet and avoid crowded public places as much as possible. If you or any child feels itchiness and develops rashes on the skin, then do not ignore these signs and consult the nearest doctor,” said Pachnekar.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious viral infection caused by varicella virus. It is also said to be a childhood disease as 90 per cent of its cases are registered in children below 14 years of age. It can occur at any time, but it usually happens during March, April and May.
Chickenpox causes an itchy, blister-like rash and high-grade fever. It is highly contagious to people who haven’t had the disease or have not been vaccinated.
Khetrapal advised that parents should seek medical help if they spot any symptoms, like itching on the skin in their kids.
“If your child has fever and there are rashes on the body, then medical help should be taken,” she added.