Taipei-The number of patients seeking medical treatment for chickenpox at outpatient clinics across Taiwan increased to 833 last week, the highest weekly prevalence of the contagious disease this year, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data released Tuesday.
The figure marked the third consecutive weekly rise and was greater than the same period last year, epidemic monitoring data shows, indicating most of those confirmed as having contracted chickenpox were children and teenagers aged under 19.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by an initial infection by the varicella zoster virus that mainly affects children. It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness and fever.
The virus spreads easily from those infected to others who have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated, mainly by touch or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters, and possibly through tiny droplets expelled into the air as a result of breathing or talking.
CDC quarantine physician Huang Wan-ting (???) said infants younger than one year old, pregnant women and adults with a weak or defective immune system are at high risk from potential chickenpox complications. However, the fatality rate is low.
Since Taiwan introduced a free chickenpox inoculation program in 2004, the number of children infected and those developing serious complications has declined significantly, Huang said.
The CDC data also noted that 52 clusters of chickenpox infection have been reported in Taiwan this year, lower than the same period last year.
Over the past four weeks, nine infection clusters have been recorded nationwide. Eight of the cases happened at schools, with four at senior high schools, the data shows.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel