ORLANDO, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - Central Florida clinics are seeing a 700 percent increase in chickenpox cases. AdventHealth says that in the last two weeks, the number of chickenpox cases at AdventHealth Centra Care locations have increased 700 percent. They described this jump as startling.
"It's not a common occurrence to see children or adults with chickenpox just because we're all vaccinated against it,” said CentraCare Medical Director Dr. Tim Hendrix.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chickenpox cases in the United States have plummeted by about 90 percent since the vaccine became common in the mid-90’s. The Mayo Clinic now classifies the illness as ‘Rare’ with less than 200,000 American cases per year.
Hendrix said CentraCare will normally see a single case among their clinics in a week or two weeks, but the 7 they saw over the last two weeks raised alarms.
"It's probably just a random event at this point,” said Dr. Hendrix, "But it makes me concerned with the number of children that aren't getting their vaccines."
There have been well documented cases recently of parents opting their children out of the chickenpox vaccine. Similar opt outs of other vaccines have lead to outbreaks of illnesses like the measles across the country; another illness that has become very uncommon since the vaccine became common.
Hendrix stresses that the chickenpox vaccine is safe.
Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. It reportedly causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. The disease can be serious, especially in babies, adults, and people with weakend immune systems. It spreads easily through the air from infected people to others who have never had chickenpox or received the chickenpox vaccine.
AdventHealth says that the best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. However, some people who have been vaccinated can still get the disease. Most people who get the chickenpox are immune for life. It is not common to get it more than once, but for those who do, it is usually milder with fewer blisters and less fever.
Hendrix said the complications from chickenpox can be deadly.If a person who is older than 12-years-old is infected with the chickenpox, AdventHealth advises that the person call a healthcare provider. They also say to watch out for the following symptoms:
- Fever that lasts longer than 4 days.
- Fever that rises above 102°F (38.9°C).
- Any areas of the rash or any part of the body becomes very red, warm, or tender, or begins leaking pus, since these symptoms may indicate a bacterial infection
- Extreme illness.
- Difficult waking up or confused demeanor.
- Stiff neck.
- Frequent vomiting.
- Difficulty breathing.
Once someone has the chickenpox, AdventHealth says that it cannot be stopped. It can be treated though with cool baths and calamine lotion.
Hendrix said if you find yourself with a fever and rash at the same time: it’s best to get checked.
For more information, visit Centracare.org.