Taranaki Public Health Unit warns of chickenpox outbreak

30 October 2019

Taranaki’s Public Health Unit is warning about the risk of further cases of chickenpox following a number of cases over the long weekend.

Taranaki Medical Officer of Health Dr Jonathan Jarman says seven children who attended the New Zealand Land Wars commemorations in Waitara on Labour Day weekend have been confirmed with chickenpox.

Dr Jarman says “The Public Health Unit was alerted about the outbreak on Monday 28 October. The illnesses occurred in a school party which attended the commemorations.”

Chickenpox is a common childhood illness with fever, feeling unwell and small blisters on the skin which can be very itchy. Other symptoms include tiredness and general aches and pains.

Dr Jarman says “Chickenpox is highly infectious and it is possible that people who have never had the disease may have been exposed at the commemorations in Waitara.

“Although most cases of chickenpox are mild and children make a full recovery, sometimes it can lead to serious complications.

“Chickenpox can be a dangerous disease to catch for certain groups of people who have reduced ability to fight infections.

“In particular we recommend any pregnant women, newborns or people who are immunocompromised and have never had chickenpox, and attended the commemorations on Sunday, to see their doctor immediately before they get sick.

 “The virus is spread through the air by infected people when they sneeze or cough, and by touching the chickenpox blisters then touching objects or other people,” confirms Dr Jarman.

Chickenpox usually clears up within 3–7 days for adults, and 5–10 days for children. Immunity is usually life long.

Chickenpox vaccination is part of the National Immunisation Schedule and is funded for children at 15 months and 11 years of age.



Last updated: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

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