Wed, Feb 20, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Chicken pox cases surge, revaccination suggested

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Centers for Disease Control’s Epidemic Intelligence Center Director Liu Ting-ping talks at a news conference in Taipei about chicken pox infections as more cases were reported last week.

Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times

A total of 981 people were diagnosed with chicken pox nationwide last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

The figure was higher than the previous three weeks and the highest reported during the same week in the past five years, the centers said, adding that most of those diagnosed with the disease were children and adolescents between five and 14 years old.

“Since the chicken pox vaccine became included in the nation’s recommended routine immunizations for infants and children in 2004, the incidence rate has fallen by nearly 90 percent, but clustered cases still sometimes occur on school campuses,” CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.

Five clusters were reported in the past four weeks, while 11 clusters out of the 12 reported this year were in schools, six of which were elementary schools, he said.

“About 10 to 20 percent of elementary-school students who were vaccinated against chicken pox at a younger age gradually lose protective immunity over time,” Lo said.

Although specialists believe that it is not necessary to revaccinate everyone, the centers still encourage parents of children who have lost protective immunity to consider getting their children revaccinated, he added.

As the chicken pox is highly contagious and can transmit through air or fluids, the centers urged people experiencing symptoms — fever, loss of appetite, headaches, tiredness, malaise, itchy rashes and blisters — to wear a surgical mask, see a doctor immediately and avoid going to school.

Meanwhile, 161,019 people last week visited hospitals and clinics complaining of diarrhea, up 9.2 percent from the prior week, the centers said.

In the past four weeks, 25 clustered cases have been reported from mainly restaurants and hotels, it added.

Late winter and early spring are the common peak season for chicken pox and diarrhea, it said, urging people to wash their hands and practice good cough etiquette, as well as rest at home until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have subsided.

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