Varicella Watch: AZ, IL, MO, MT, OH, WI
by Dan Nguyen
Disease forecaster Ascel Bio today is re-issuing an alert for Varicella disease across the United States.
Warnings for Arizona, Illinois, Missouri, Montana, Ohio and Wisconsin are issued as these states are seeing higher incidence rates above forecast, according to the most recent data from late October 2016.
Ascel Bio’s projections for these mentioned states continue to indicate an overall decreasing trend as we approach the winter months. However, minute peaks are observed in early November for some states. Currently, reported case counts for all mentioned states exceed our forecast highs.
In Illinois, cases continue to surpass the forecast high but have plateaued from an early October level. Early October levels in Arizona, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin were below or in range with our forecast low but have steadily increased through October. Arizona and Wisconsin varicella levels exceeded a late October peak. In our last alert, Wisconsin varicella cases were in decline. However, this decrease has since halted and surged rapidly. Montana and Ohio are projected to have another peak in early November, but recent reported case counts from late October have already surpassed these projected peaks.
Nationally, Ascel Bio is projecting a significant increase in Varicella cases and demand for care in the coming months. Varicella is caused by a DNA virus of the herpesvirus group. Viruses from this group have the ability to persist and live in the nerve ganglia after first infection. Varicella causes lesions all over the body, starting at the head, including additional symptoms such as fever and malaise. The first infection is colloquially called chicken pox and the reactivation of the virus is called shingles. This is highly communicable disease, spread through respiratory secretions and from fluids in present lesions. There is no cure for Varicella and only supportive care is advised. Acetaminophen is recommended as an antipyretic but not aspirin or aspirin containing OTCs as they may cause Reye’s syndrome, a fatal liver and brain disease in young children. Vaccination is the best preventative measure available.