Chicken pox outbreak under control –Minister Norton
GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, November 24, 2016
The Ministry of Public Health is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to contain an outbreak of chicken pox at the Paramakatoi Secondary School dormitory in Region Eight.
Minister of Public Health, Dr George Norton said that the situation, while worrying, is under control.
At an emergency press briefing today, in the Ministry’s boardroom, Brickdam, Minister Norton said there have been 164 cases of chicken pox over the last week in the school’s dorms.
The varicella virus commonly known as chicken pox is air borne and can be spread by droplets of saliva from coughing, sneezing, talking or even breathing along with sharing utensils.
The virus has an incubation period of 10-21 days and symptoms include headaches, fever (mild to moderate), and appearance of rash on the abdomen that spreads to other parts of the body.
Medical and environmental teams are working to prevent the spread of the virus and treat all infected children. Pharmaceuticals to treat the virus have also been sent to the region along with the varicella vaccine, Minster Norton told the media.
Dr. Oneka Scott who is the focal point for Adolescent Health at the Ministry of Public Health said, the varicella vaccine is a preventative one that is targeted towards vulnerable groups.
“It’s not part of our regular vaccination schedule…they are for special vulnerable population; those include dormitories, schools, orphanages, health, sanitation workers any type of vulnerable group,” Dr Scott explained. Dr Scott added that the vaccine is administered to vulnerable persons who have had contact with the virus previously.
The varicella vaccine will be administered “to everybody who has not been previously affected and is not currently affected by chicken pox” in
the Region Eight community. Dr Scott assured the vaccine, which was introduced in March 2015, is “relatively safe, relatively effective; it’s really the best source of prevention.”
Dr. Norton pointed out that while it remains uncertain whether the virus has spread beyond the dorms; the Ministry of Health is working with the Ministry of Education to suspend classes as part of efforts to quarantine the outbreak.
“School would be closed so that those who are in the dorms would remain in the dorms and those who are out of the dorms would not have to go make contact with those who are infected in the dorms,” Dr Norton explained.
There is also a robust education, and hygiene campaign being conducted in the community by the Ministry of Public Health’s environmental team in collaboration with the Ministry of Education on how to prevent contracting the virus, and identifying symptoms, Dr Scott noted.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Karen Cummings will travel to the area tomorrow to conduct an on the ground assessment of the situation.
By Tiffny Rhodius