Big increase in chickenpox cases among children
A striking number of children have recently contracted chickenpox. Research Institute Nivel announced that four to five times as many children will get chickenpox this year as in the first months of 2021, based on general practitioner data.
The research findings mainly include children between the ages of zero and four, but children between the ages of five and 15 are also affected. The disease is much more common than a year ago, Children in this age bracket are falling ill with the infection up to twice as often.
Nivel estimates that this may be partially due to a "catch-up effect" following the pandemic years. Due to all the Covid-19 measures, from school closures to social distancing rules, many infectious diseases hardly occurred in 2020 and 2021. With the relaxation of restrictions at the beginning of this year, those diseases have more opportunities to spread.
There are now about 150 confirmed cases of chickenpox per 100,000 inhabitants every week among the youngest children. The researchers rely on registrations from hundreds of family physicians. Many parents also allow their children to get sick at home without the assistance of a general practitioner.
Chickenpox is caused by a virus. It is usually a harmless childhood disease, but serious complications can arise on rarer occasions. In general, children mainly suffer from an itchy rash with blisters. Adults who contract chickenpox are at greater risk for additional problems.
Pediatricians told Volkskrant on Wednesday that they have seen more children infected with a Group A streptococcus bacteria recently. Chickenpox can increase the chance of such an infection. These types of bacteria are also usually relatively harmless, but in rare cases the infection can lead to very serious symptoms.
Something similar happened with the RS virus last summer. It was suppressed during the winter by the Covid-19 measures, but spread in the summer when the measures were already largely relaxed.
Reporting by ANP