We are monitoring the disease and our school nurses are in regular contact with schools…
—Dr. Kiran Kumar, Medical Officer of Health
Public Health officials have confirmed clusters of chickenpox cases in two schools in the past week and are asking parents to keep sick children home to stop a further spread.
"We are monitoring the disease and our school nurses are in regular contact with schools so the affected children can be kept home until the lesions are crusted, which usually occurs in 5-7 days time," said Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Kiran Kumar.
"We also met the school authorities and organized to offer vaccination at the affected schools. School authorities will be communicating this to the parents to get their unimmunized children vaccinated or to get a booster dose if they wish," he added.
Children in the Cayman Islands are generally immunized against chickenpox at the age of twelve months. The chickenpox vaccine has been part of the local immunization schedule since 2000.
"The public need not be alarmed as about 75 - 100 cases are reported annually in the Cayman Islands with fluctuations. As of this month, there have already been 52 reported cases with half of them in children under the age of 15. This is a sharp rise from last year's total of 29 cases but still far less than the 104 cases reported for 2009.
"There will be many more unreported cases. People who had chickenpox already will have natural immunization. However, for persons who have not had chickenpox, we recommend that you get vaccinated," Dr. Kumar noted.
For the public's convenience the General Practice Clinic, at the Cayman Islands Hospital will be offering the vaccine on Saturday 1 October, 2011 between 9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. (no appointments necessary). As usual, parents can their children immunized at any district Health Centre or Public Health Clinic.
Chickenpox is a disease caused by infection with the varicella zoster virus which causes fever and an itchy rash. Symptoms can include a skin rash of blister-like lesions covering the body, but usually more concentrated on the face, scalp, and trunk.
Most, but not all, infected individuals have fever, which develops just before or when the rash appears. If exposed, persons who have been vaccinated against the disease may get a milder illness, with less severe rash (sometimes involving only a few red bumps that look similar to insect bites) and mild or no fever.
For more information, contact the Public Health Department on 244-2648.
For further information contact: Cornelia Oliver