Those infected are being urged to stay home.
Those infected are being urged to stay home.

Health alert: Chickenpox cases on the rise in CQ

CHICKENPOX is spreading like a rash throughout Central Queensland, with cases so far this year 1.5 per cent up on the five year average.

There have been 366 lab-confirmed cases of the highly contagious disease in the Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service area, including more than 30 in the past four weeks.

This is compared with the previous average of 243 for the same period.

CQ Public Health Unit director Dr Gulam Khandaker said the disease, which is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, was spread through coughing, sneezing and direct contact with the fluid in the blisters of the rash.

“A person with chickenpox is infectious for a day or two before the onset of the rash and

until the blisters have all scabbed, usually four to five days,” Dr Khandaker said.

“People with chickenpox should not attend childcare facilities, schools or work for at least

five days after the rash first appears and until dry scabs have replaced all blisters.”

Dr Khandaker said there was no specific treatment recommended or required for otherwise healthy children and adults with chickenpox.

“Immunisation is the best way to protect against chickenpox, however it is also important to

maintain good hygiene practices, such as regular hand washing, particularly after contact

with a sick person.

“Any contacts with lowered immunity, such as those with leukaemia, should be immediately

excluded and referred for specialist advice.”