Chicken pox, what’s the big deal?
It’s only a skin condition, isn’t it? Do we really need an immunisation program? Does it even work?
Most of us are familiar with chicken pox – caused by the varicella virus – as an annoying itchy rash which lasts for a couple of weeks.
For some children however, especially those whose immune systems are struggling due to congenital conditions or treatments such as chemotherapy, chicken pox can be a serious and debilitating illness with lifelong effects. Even as recently as 10 years ago, as many as 16 Australian children died per year as a result of varicella infection.
The Australian government introduced immunisation against varicella as part of its National Immunisation Program in 2006. A recent study conducted by Adelaide-based doctor Helen Marshall and her colleagues across Australia shows that the program has been very effective in reducing severe illness and deaths in children.
[image thanks to normanack on flickr]