Chickenpox cases on the rise in Michigan
LANSING, Mich. – Chickenpox cases and outbreaks are on the rise in Michigan in 2016.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says that there have been 239 chickenpox cases through April. This is an increase of 57% over last year.
“The chickenpox vaccine is safe and very effective, and is required for school and day care attendance to help prevent the spread of illness,” said Dr. Eden Wells, chief medical executive of MDHHS in a press release. “It is important to know that, despite common misconceptions, illness from chickenpox can be severe and sometimes require hospitalization resulting in serious complications.”
Chickenpox is caused by a virus in the herpes virus family and is characterized by an itchy, blistery rash. Chickenpox is highly contagious, with the virus spreading easily through coughing, sneezing, and other contact with respiratory secretions. Like other herpes-family viruses, this virus has the capability to remain in the body indefinitely as a latent infection and reactivate later in life. When the chickenpox virus reactivates it causes a painful condition called shingles.
The state says that since the chickenpox vaccine was licensed in 1995, incidences of chickenpox in Michigan have dropped 97%. The majority of cases so far in 2016 have occurred in children who were not vaccinated.