UAE doctors warn residents of chickenpox as summer nears

The virus spreads through person-to-person contact via airborne or droplet routes, and higher temperatures provide favourable conditions for its transmission


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Wed 27 Mar 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Thu 28 Mar 2024, 12:19 AM

Recent reports indicate an uptick in chickenpox cases affecting both adults and children. Doctors in the UAE are urging residents to be vigilant against chickenpox as temperatures rise. Physicians explained that chickenpox, caused by the infectious varicella-zoster virus, manifests with symptoms such as fever, sore throat, and a distinctive rash.

Dr Fiaz Ahamed, Infection Control Physician, Thumbay University Hospital, said, "As summer approaches, there could potentially be an increase in cases of chickenpox due to various factors associated with the season. People tend to spend more time outdoors or travel, which can lead to increased social interaction.

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"This increased interaction provides more opportunities for the varicella-zoster virus to spread from person to person, especially in crowded places such as parks, pools, and children's camps. In addition, summer often coincides with school breaks and vacations, resulting in children spending more time together in close quarters."

Incubation period is 10-21 days

Physicians stressed schools and daycare centres, where children can easily transmit the virus to one another, may also contribute to the spread of chickenpox during this time.

Dr Fiaz Ahamed
Dr Fiaz Ahamed

"The rise in chickenpox cases that have recently been reported in the UAE highlights concerns about reduced immunity and the extremely infectious varicella-zoster virus. It spreads through person-to-person contact via airborne or droplet routes, with high contagion during close contact. The incubation period is 10-21 days, and patients become infectious 24-48 hours before the rash appears," added Ahamed.

Dr Pavithra V. Reddy, Specialist Internal Medicine Prime Medical Center Motor City branch, explained symptoms of chicken pox, along with fever and rash, are itching and fluid-filled blisters. "These eventually turn in scabs which appear on the chest, back and face and spread over the entire body."

"Rising temperature in summer is a favourable condition for the disease to spread faster. Infected patients need to be isolated to prevent the spread of the disease," she added.

Dr Pavithra V. Reddy
Dr Pavithra V. Reddy

Doctors pointed out that understanding its transmission dynamics is crucial for preventive measures, including vaccination, to control its spread effectively.

Dr Eman Abdul Kader Alabar, Specialist Internal Medicine, Burjeel Specialty Hospital, Sharjah, said, "Doctors typically report seeing more cases lately during this season. During these months, the days are warm and the nights cold. Hence, the chances of viral infections are higher.

Vaccination is essential

To safeguard individuals and foster herd immunity, doctors emphasised the importance of vaccination as a vital preventive measure against chickenpox. According to healthcare professionals, promoting vaccination compliance and raising awareness about chickenpox symptoms can facilitate early detection and effective management of cases.

Dr Eman Abdul Kader Alabar
Dr Eman Abdul Kader Alabar

Additionally, healthcare providers should be vigilant in reporting and treating cases to prevent outbreaks and complications.

"The primary solution for chickenpox is vaccination. Vaccination protects individuals from contracting chickenpox and reduces the spread of the virus within communities through herd immunity.

"Additionally, practising good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing, can help prevent the spread of the virus. It's important to emphasise the significance of vaccination, especially for vulnerable populations such as children, older people, and individuals with weakened immune systems," Alabar added.


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