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Varicella (Chickenpox)

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Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever. The rash appears first on the stomach, back and face and can spread over the entire body causing between 250 and 500 itchy blisters. Chickenpox can be serious, especially in babies, adults, and people with weakened immune systems. The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine.

Guidelines and recommendations for clinicians for pertussis laboratory testing

  • Symptoms
  • Transmission
  • Prevention

Symptoms include:

  • Blister-like rash
  • Fever that lasts about 4 to 6 days
  • Itching
  • Tiredness

Certain groups of people are more likely to have more severe illness with serious complications. These include adult, infants, adolescents, pregnant women, and people have a weakened immune system. If anyone develops symptoms that look like chickenpox, contact your health care provider.

It is spread from person to person by direct contact or through the air from an infected person’s coughing and sneezing. Chickenpox can be spread for 1-2 days before rash starts and until all blisters are crusted or no new lesions appear within a 24-hour period. It takes between 10-21 days after contact with an infected person for someone to develop chickenpox.  

If I have been vaccinated, can I still get chickenpox?
Yes. About 15%–20% of people who have received one dose of chickenpox vaccine do still get chickenpox if they are exposed, but their disease is usually mild.   Two doses of varicella vaccine are now routinely recommended. The first dose can be given at 12 months of age and the second dose between 4-6 years of age.

Varicella Surveillance
December 2018

Key Points: 149 cases, 3 outbreaks, <1 year olds have highest incidence, 70% cases not up to date or unknown immunizations

The number of varicella cases reported in December increased from last month and was above previous 5-year average. In general, more varicella cases are reported during the late winter and summer months.

This image contains a summary of varicella cases reported by month in 2018 as compared to the previous 5-year average. In December 2018, 149 cases of varicella were reported, which is above the previous 5-year average.

From January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2018, 905 varicella cases were reported in 52 counties.

The annual number of reported varicella cases decreased from 2015 to 2017. Thus far in 2018, case counts are notably above the total number of cases in previous years.

In December, 16 (11%) of 149 total cases were associated with transmission within households and 18 (12%) cases were outbreak associated. For most varicella cases, exposure to other known cases is never identified, and they are not able to be linked to outbreaks.

This image contains a bar graph of total cases compared to household associated cases and outbreak associated cases for December 2018 and the previous 3-month average. In December, 16 out of 149 cases were household-associated and 18 out of 149 cases were outbreak-associated. In the previous 3 months 12 out of 68 cases were household-associated and 6 out of 68 cases were outbreak-associated.

The 149 varicella cases in December were reported among the 27 counties outlined in black. During the previous 3 months (October through December), the average county rate varied throughout the state.

This map shows the previous 3-month average varicella rates per 100,000 population. Counties with one or more cases reported in December are: Baker, Brevard, Broward, Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Columbia, Miami-Dade, Duval, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Palm Beach, Pinellas, Polk, St. Johns, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Seminole, Volusia, and Wakulla  Counties with a rate of 0.1-0.4 per 100,000 population are: Brevard, Pasco, Marion, Escambia, Seminole, Clay, Sarasota, Palm Beach, Okaloosa, Charlotte, Lake, Duval, Martin, Orange, Alachua, Lee, Collier, Indian River  Counties with a rate of 0.5-1.5 per 100,000 population are:  Volusia, Hillsborough, Polk, Broward, Citrus, St. Johns, Osceola, Pinellas, DeSoto, Miami-Dade, Manatee, Wakulla, St. Lucie, Baker, Santa Rosa  Counties with a rate of 1.6-3.0 per 100,000 population are: Columbia, Okeechobee, Monroe. This image contains a summary of the total number of varicella cases reported from 2013 through 2018. In total for each year there have been: 660 in 2013; 567 in 2014; 741 in 2015; 733 in 2016; 656 in 2017; and 905 in 2018.

Three varicella outbreaks were reported in December. Two were reported in schools in Pinellas County (8 cases to date) and Columbia County (5 cases to date). One was reported in a daycare in Hillsborough County (11 cases to date). Individuals were identified in November and December for all three outbreaks reported this month.

11 total varicella outbreaks were reported in 2018, of which 6 occurred in schools, 1 in a daycare, and 4 in correctional facilities.

For more information please read the full summary.

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