New Chickenpox Variant Discovery in India: A Step Towards Better Preparedness

New Chickenpox Variant Found in India: What You Should Know

India is facing multiple health challenges right now. On one hand, there are concerns about the Nipah virus returning in Kerala, and on the other hand, daily COVID-19 cases are nearing a hundred after a long decline. Additionally, there’s a rising number of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and malaria across the country.

Amidst all this, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune have identified a new variant of the chickenpox-causing varicella-zoster virus (VZV) in India, known as the Clade 9 variant.

So, what’s the deal with this new chickenpox variant in India? Let’s break it down for you.

What is New Chickenpox and Where Did Clade 9 VZV Come From?

Chickenpox is a common childhood illness caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). In adults, this virus can lead to shingles.

Previously, the Clade 9 strain of this virus was commonly found in countries like Germany, the UK, and the US. However, in a recent study, scientists discovered the Clade 9 strain in India for the first time, along with the previously known Clade 1 and Clade 5 variants. A “clade” is simply a group or subtype that comes from a common ancestor.

What Are the Symptoms of Clade 9 VZV?

The symptoms of Clade 9 VZV infection are similar to regular chickenpox. It starts with itchy rashes that turn into blisters and eventually form scabs. Other symptoms include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, headache, and fatigue. Typically, these symptoms appear within 2-3 weeks of infection, but in this variant, the rash progression happens more rapidly.

Is Clade 9 VZV More Dangerous?

While Clade 9 VZV is new to India, there’s no significant evidence suggesting that it causes more severe illness compared to regular chickenpox, according to Dr. Pragya Yadav, a scientist at NIV and the study’s author. However, its detection highlights the importance of monitoring infections across the country to identify potential threats early on.

Is There a Special Treatment for This New Chickenpox Variant?

The treatment for the new variant is no different from regular chickenpox. It primarily involves relieving symptoms and discomfort. You can use over-the-counter medications, take soothing baths, and stay hydrated to help with the healing process. However, in severe cases or if complications, like central nervous system involvement, arise, seeking immediate medical attention is crucial.

How Can You Prevent Varicella-Zoster Infection?

The first line of defense against chickenpox is vaccination for children, as recommended by medical professionals and immunization guidelines. Although breakthrough infections can happen after vaccination, they usually result in milder symptoms. Practicing good hygiene, such as regular handwashing, can also reduce the risk of infection. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chickenpox is considered contagious from 1 to 2 days before the rash appears until scabs form, so it’s essential to avoid close contact with infected individuals during this period.

In summary, while a new chickenpox variant (Clade 9 VZV) has been detected in India, there’s no need to panic. The symptoms are similar to regular chickenpox, and the treatment and prevention methods remain the same. Stay informed, practice good hygiene, and ensure your children are vaccinated to protect against this common childhood illness.

Governments advised people to stay clean and follow hygiene

Inputs: TOI


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