New Clade 9 Chickenpox Variant Emerges in India

Symptoms, Prevention, and Treatment Insights

Attention India
5 Min Read
New Clade 9 Chickenpox Variant Emerges in India
  • Clade 9 Chickenpox: Symptoms and Infectivity
  • Preventing Clade 9 Spread: Vaccination and Hygiene
  • Treatment Options for the Emerging Chickenpox Variant

12th September 2023,Mumbai: A New Chickenpox Variant in India

A new variant of chickenpox, known as Clade 9, has made its debut in India. This strain, predominantly found in countries like Germany, the UK, and the US, was recently identified by the National Institute of Virology (NIV) in India. While Clade 1 and Clade 5 were the previously known variants responsible for chickenpox infections in the Indian population, Clade 9’s emergence raises questions about its characteristics and potential impact on public health.

Understanding Clade 9: A Varicella Zoster Variant

Clade 9 is a variant of the varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a member of the herpesvirus family. This virus is responsible for causing chickenpox in children and teenagers and can later resurface as shingles in adults. The detection of Clade 9 in India marks a significant development as it differs from the previously identified Clade 1 and Clade 5.

Common Symptoms of Clade 9

Chickenpox, regardless of the strain, presents with a set of common symptoms. Dr. Vineeta Taneja, Director of Internal Medicine at Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, lists these symptoms as rash, fever, loss of appetite, headache, fatigue, and an overall feeling of illness. The rash typically appears 2-3 weeks after exposure to the virus, accompanied by preceding symptoms such as fever, body ache, and headache. The rash initially manifests as papules and progresses to fluid-filled blisters called vesicles, which eventually develop into scabs. Infectivity to others starts 2 days prior to the rash’s onset and continues until scab formation.

Comparing Clade 9 to Previous Variants

As of now, there is no substantial evidence to suggest that Clade 9 causes a more severe infection compared to previous variants. Dr. Tushar Tayal, Consultant in Internal Medicine at CK Birla Hospital, Gurugram, assures that the severity of the infection remains similar to what was observed with Clade 1 and Clade 5.

Preventing Clade 9 and Chickenpox

Prevention plays a vital role in curbing the spread of chickenpox, regardless of the strain. Dr. Taneja emphasizes the most effective preventive measure: vaccination. Countries like the United States and several European nations include the Varicella vaccine as part of their routine immunization schedule. Practicing good hygiene, such as regular handwashing, is also crucial in reducing the risk of VZV transmission.

Additional Prevention Tips

– Isolation: If someone in your household contracts chickenpox, isolating them, especially from high-risk individuals like pregnant women and newborns, is crucial.

– Cough and Sneeze Etiquette: Properly covering coughs and sneezes can minimize the spread of respiratory droplets containing the virus.

– Avoid Sharing Personal Items: Refrain from sharing items like towels, clothing, and utensils with an infected individual.

– Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle: A strong immune system is a powerful defense against infections. Ensure a balanced diet, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep.

– Seek Medical Advice: If exposed to chickenpox or experiencing symptoms, prompt medical consultation is essential. Specific recommendations may apply, especially for high-risk individuals.

– Post-Exposure Prophylaxis: In some cases, Varicella-Zoster Immune Globulin (VZIG) may be recommended for high-risk individuals after exposure.

Treatment Options

Treatment of chickenpox is primarily symptom-focused. Antiviral medications like acyclovir, valacyclovir, or famciclovir can reduce symptom severity and duration. Pain relievers, calamine lotion, cool baths, and rest can provide relief from itching and discomfort. Antibiotics may be necessary for secondary bacterial infections resulting from scratching the rash. Additionally, topical antiviral creams may be used in some cases, and antiviral prophylaxis might be considered for high-risk individuals. Pregnant women require special attention and management if they contract chickenpox or shingles.

 The emergence of Clade 9 in India brings new challenges to the realm of chickenpox. While it may not be more severe than previous variants, awareness and preventive measures, including vaccination and hygiene practices, remain crucial in mitigating the spread of the virus. Timely medical intervention and adherence to treatment recommendations are vital for those affected by this new chickenpox strain.

-by Kashvi Gala

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