India is currently facing several health crises, including concerns about the Nipah virus, a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, and a nationwide increase in mosquito-borne illnesses like dengue and malaria. Amid this chaos, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune have detected a new variant of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), which causes chickenpox. This variant, known as Clade 9 VZV, has raised questions about its origins, symptoms, and potential impact.
Chickenpox is a common childhood illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). This virus can also cause shingles in adults. The Clade 9 strain of VZV was previously common in countries like Germany, the UK, and the US. However, a recent study detected the Clade 9 strain in India for the first time, alongside the previously known Clade 1 and Clade 5 variants. Clades represent different groups or subtypes of a virus that share a common ancestor.
What are the symptoms of Clade 9 VZV?
The symptoms of Clade 9 VZV infection are similar to regular chickenpox. They include itchy rashes that develop into blisters and eventually scab over. Other symptoms may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, headache, and general discomfort. These symptoms typically appear 2-3 weeks after viral infection, but Clade 9 VZV may lead to a more rapid development of rashes.
Is Clade 9 VZV more dangerous than other strains? There is no significant evidence to suggest that Clade 9 VZV is more dangerous than other known strains of chickenpox. Patients infected with this variant did not experience heightened disease severity compared to regular chickenpox. However, the detection of Clade 9 VZV highlights the importance of monitoring and genomic surveillance of infections to identify potential threats in advance.
Is there a specific treatment for this new chickenpox variant?
The treatment protocol for Clade 9 VZV is no different from that of other chickenpox strains. Treatment primarily focuses on relieving symptoms and discomfort. Over-the-counter medications, soothing baths, and staying hydrated can help with the healing process. In severe cases or if complications involving the central nervous system occur, immediate medical attention is necessary.
How can a varicella-zoster infection be prevented?
The primary prevention method against chickenpox is vaccination, especially for children as recommended by medical professionals and immunization guidelines. While breakthrough infections can occur after vaccination, they often result in milder symptoms. Practicing good hygiene, such as regular handwashing, can reduce the risk of infection. Chickenpox is considered contagious from 1 to 2 days before the rash appears until scabs have formed. Therefore, close contact with infected individuals should be avoided during this period to prevent transmission.
FOR MORE HEALTH NEWS