by Jacob Carson
IF the recent gastro and flu outbreaks seen across Queensland weren't enough to deal with, parents and kids across the Gympie Region are being urged to take care - with rumours of a number of cases of chickenpox being reported recently.
A spokeswoman from the Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service says that while there haven't been any reports of outbreaks officially reported to public health officers, that doesn't completely rule it out.
"We've consulted with the [Gympie] Public Health Team, and we haven't had any specific evidence of a chicken pox outbreak,” she says.
"But it can be readily be diagnosed clinically by family doctors and not notified to the Public Health Unit.”
Chickenpox usually begins with cold or flu-like symptoms, including a mild fever, headache, runny nose and cough.
A day or two later and the more readily-identifiable rash begins, starting off as small pink blotches and rapidly progressing to blisters and scabs.
For young children, who aren't typically considered to be in the high-risk category for the disease, it's highly important they don't scratch or pick at these sores.
Doing so, the spokeswoman adds, greatly increases the risk of contamination and possibly further exacerbating the symptoms.
For the majority of children, chickenpox is a mild illness with a short duration but it poses a significantly higher risk to adults.
Immunisation is still recommended by the SCHHS as the best means of protection against the disease, but good hygiene practices - especially when it comes to washing and cleaning hands - are just as important.
A safe and effective vaccine, varicella, is currently available in Australia.
For more information on chickenpox in Queensland and what you can do to protect yourself, head to the Health Department's website here.