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06th Jun 2024

Parents urged to be ‘Chickenpox Aware’ following recent figures

Niamh Ryan

Dr. Niall Conroy, Adjunct Professor of Public Health at UCC, is urging parents to be ‘Chickenpox Aware’

Hospitalisations for the viral disease increased by 126% last year, according to the latest Health Protection Surveillance Centre data.

Chickenpox is highly contagious and causes an itchy, blister-like rash that can cause discomfort.

The disease is usually mild, however it can be serious in babies, adults, pregnant women, immunocompromised people.

An estimated 58,000 cases of Chickenpox are diagnosed each year in Ireland, with approximately 1 in 250 cases requiring hospitalisation.

In 2023, 170 hospitalisations were reported compared to 75 in 2022.

“This represents a concerning trend amidst recent outbreaks of other preventable diseases like measles, which should provide us with a timely warning that we should be taking preventable diseases, like chickenpox, seriously,” Dr. Conroy said in a statement.

Chickenpox most commonly affects children under 10, but it is possible to contract it at any stage.

According to the HSE, the disease usually clears itself up without treatment, but things like calamine lotion can calm the itching sensation.

Other symptoms may include a fever and loss of appetite.

“I would urge any parent to get the facts about chickenpox and speak with a healthcare professional to get all the information they need about protecting children against preventable diseases,” Dr. Conroy said.