If there was ever proof needed to show why it’s important to immunise your children, then this post will be it.
A mother in Britain has shared images of her two-year-old son Jasper, covered in red, blistering spots after being diagnosed with the ‘worst case of chickenpox ever seen’.
The 36-year-old mother, Sarah Allen, tried to book her son in to see a GP after he developed a few spots in July after the two-year-old had scarlet fever. When Mrs Allen spoke to the GP receptionist, she was refused an appointment with the response, ‘every mother thinks their child has bad chickenpox’ and that seeing a doctor wouldn’t be necessary.
When Jasper’s temperature started to rise, Mrs Allen took her son to the same GP where he was prescribed antibiotics and oral medication.
A couple of hours later, Jasper’s condition had not improved so Mrs Allen took him to hospital where the little tot stayed for five days. Jasper was immediately hooked to an IV drip and given antiviral medication, antibiotics and morphine to help fight the virus.
Mrs Allen told the Daily Mail, ‘When I first called our local GP’s surgery I spoke to the receptionist to make an appointment for Jasper but when I told her it was chickenpox she said to me “every mother thinks their child has bad chickenpox”.
‘I knew I wasn’t being a neurotic mother – I have two children and have run a nursery and seen hundreds of kids with chickenpox before so I knew this wasn’t normal.
‘They should listen to parents more – we know our babies better than anybody in the world.
She continued: ‘When Jasper was admitted to hospital, it was scary but I was also relieved I was actually being taken seriously and they were doing something about it.
‘As we were sat in the waiting room waiting for a bed I could see this redness in his chest spreading all over him before my eyes.
‘We couldn’t hold him for three days because he screamed every time we touched him.
‘It is worse when it’s your own child because all you want is to take the pain away for them, it broke my heart.’
Everyone’s reaction at the hospital was complete shock at Jasper’s case of chickenpox.
‘Everyone’s reactions in the hospital were just complete shock over how severe it was – the doctors all wanted to come and see this worst ever case of chickenpox.
‘There was even talk about using the pictures for a medical journal.
‘One of the paediatric nurses with 40 years’ experience said she had never seen anything like it.
‘It shouldn’t have affected a healthy two-year-old as badly as it did – imagine how it could have affected a child with a compromised immune system.’
She continued: ‘I was one of those parents who couldn’t wait for my two-year-old to get chickenpox so then it was out of the way – I didn’t think there was any harm in letting him get it.
‘But to see him get it like that and see how it took over his body was just heart-breaking.
‘Nearly every child I’ve ever had in my care has had chickenpox at some point, but never like this.
Mrs Allen, who also has a 5-year-old child and is a Nursery Manager, is now calling on the British government to make the vaccination routine for all children in Britain. At present the vaccine is only given to children and adults who are deemed to require it on medical grounds, despite it being available since 2013.
In Britain, chickenpox infects about 65 per cent of children before their fifth birthday.
The vaccine is given to children in the US, Australia and Germany.
Mrs Allen said, ‘We are one of the only countries who do not routinely vaccinate against chickenpox – Europe, the US and Australia all now do.
‘My kids have had all their immunisations but this was not something that ever crossed my mind to vaccinate them against privately.’
Jasper is now undergoing heart scans to make sure his bout of chickenpox has no lasting effects. Doctors are still unsure on why Jasper’s chickenpox was so severe.
Thankfully, in Australia, children who are 18 months old are given the Varicella vaccine for free to immunize them against chickenpox.
Varicella (chickenpox) is a highly contagious infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is a member of the herpes group of viruses. It is usually a mild disease that lasts a short time in healthy children. However, it can be severe in adults and may cause serious or even fatal complications in people of any age.
Vaccination of children against chickenpox not only prevents serious disease in childhood, but also ensures immunity in adolescence and adulthood, when complications from the disease can have severe outcomes. Vaccination has been highly effective in reducing varicella hospitalisations among young children in Australia.
Chickenpox is highly contagious, and is spread through the air, by coughing, sneezing or direct contact with people who are infected. About 90% of unvaccinated people who have not previously had chickenpox will become infected when they come into contact with the virus.
Symptoms of chickenpox take between 10 and 21 days (14 to 16 days on average) to show after infection. The main symptom is an itchy red rash that turns into open lesions or small wounds, which then crust over. Chickenpox can also cause flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache and sore throat.
Complications of the disease can include: infection of the lesions, pneumonia (lung infection), difficulty walking and balancing, meningitis (infection of the membrane surrounding the brain), and encephalitis (brain infection).
Infection during pregnancy can result in congenital abnormalities in the baby. The varicella virus can also reactivate many years after the initial infection and cause shingles (herpes zoster).
Chickenpox is a vaccine preventable disease, and vaccination is recommended as part of routine childhood immunisation. The varicella vaccine is free under the National Immunisation Program Schedule.
Immunisation against chickenpox is achieved in one dose of the MMRV (measles-mumps-rubella-varicella) combination vaccine at 18 months of age.
A catch-up program is available for children aged 10-13 years who have not received the varicella vaccine.
Apply dressings to help the itch – ask your GP for safe ones to use
Give appropriate doses of paracetamol to ease discomfort
Do NOT give your child Ibuprofen or aspirin
Keep your child well hydrated
Monitor your child’s temperature
Visit your GP for any concerns
There is no cure for chickenpox, and the virus usually clears up by itself without any treatment. But it is important to monitor children who have a weakened immune system as complications can occur that may require hospital treatment.