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Chickenpox (Varicella) Disease

  • Q:
    What are the symptoms of chickenpox?
    A:

    Chickenpox, or varicella, is a very common childhood infection that can also affect adults. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which only infects humans.

    Children with chickenpox may get a fever, a mild headache, feel tired, and have muscle or joint aches. They will get an itchy rash that appears as raised red bumps. These spots will turn in to blisters that burst, and then scab over. The rash usually lasts about 4 to 5 days.
    Putting calamine lotion on the rash, or having a cool bath helps to relieve the itch. Tylenol or Advil can help with fever or muscle aches. Do not give ASA products (like Aspirin).
  • Q:
    How does chickenpox spread?
    A:

    Chickenpox is extremely contagious. It is spread through the air when a person with chickenpox coughs or sneezes, as well as through contact with fluid from chickenpox blisters.
  • Q:
    Can my child go to school with chickenpox?
    A:

    Chickenpox is contagious 2 days prior to getting a rash (usually before a person is aware they have an infection), until all spots are scabbed over.

    As long as your child is feeling well enough to participate in activities at school, they may return to school. Transmission of chickenpox is highest before the rash is visible, so keeping children home once the rash has started has not been shown to prevent spread.
  • Q:
    How do I protect my child from chickenpox?
    A:

    The best way to protect your child from chickenpox is to get two doses of the chickenpox vaccine.

    If your child has been in contact with someone who has chickenpox disease, getting a dose of vaccine (if they have not had the vaccine before) within 3-5 days of contact has been shown to reduce severity of the disease.
    Although not as common, there have been breakthrough cases of chickenpox disease in children who have only had one dose of the vaccine. These cases are usually only very mild. For this reason, the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has now implemented a mandatory second dose of vaccine, starting for children in junior kindergarten this year.
     
    Your child is eligible for a free chickenpox vaccine if your child:
     
    Has had one dose of chickenpox vaccine;
    Has not yet had chickenpox disease; and,
    Is born in the year 2000 or later.
     
    Chickenpox vaccines are available through the health unit – call to make an appointment. 
  • Q:
    What do i need to know about chickenpox as a parent of a kindergarten student?
    A:

    If your child attending school was born in 2010 or later you will need to provide the Northwestern Health Unit with:

    Recorded proof your child has received two doses of chickenpox vaccine; or
    Blood test proving immunity; or
    A note from their doctor stating that they have had chickenpox disease.

Child and Family Health

  • Q:
    Is it safe to be active during my pregnancy?
    A:

    Becoming pregnant should not stop you from getting or staying active. Physical activity can be part of your pregnancy, but there are some things to consider that will help keep you and your growing baby safe.

    If you were active (at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes) before pregnancy, you can safely remain active during your pregnancy. If you were inactive before becoming pregnant, second trimester, or after your 16th week of pregnancy, is the safest time for you to begin adding physical activity to your daily or weekly routine. Talk to your health care provider before beginning or changing your physical activity program.
    For more information about active pregnancy, click here.
  • Q:
    What are the benefits of breastfeeding my baby?
    A:

    Here are a few of the many reasons why breastfeeding offers your baby the best start in life. Breastfeeding:

    Gives your baby all the nutrition they need to grow and develop;
    Promotes brain development;
    Decreases the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); (hyperlink)
    Helps your baby build a stronger immune system to fight disease and infection;
    Promotes health tooth and jaw development; and
    Decreases your baby’s risk of childhood obesity.
    Learn more about the benefits of breastfeeding for baby, mother and the community.
  • Q:
    Are herbs and herbal teas safe during my pregnancy?
    A:

    While pregnant or breastfeeding, what you put into your body may affect your baby. Whether you use herbs to prevent or treat a health problem or drink herbal teas to replace caffeinated drinks, read on to find out how to make a safe choice.

    Some herbs or herbal teas are dangerous to pregnant or breastfeeding women because they:
    Stimulate uterine contractions
    Have estrogen-like effects
    Affect blood pressure.
     
    If you are unsure about the safety of any herbs or herbal teas, it is best to avoid it.
    Before taking any herb or herbal tea, talk to your health care provider or pharmacist.

    Read more about consuming herbs and herbal teas and during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
  • Q:
    Is my baby getting enough vitamin D?
    A:

    If your baby is breastfed, they need a vitamin D supplement. Breast milk is the best food for your baby. But a little more vitamin D than mom can give is needed for your baby to be healthy.

     
    Health Canada recommends that all breastfed, healthy term infants receive a daily vitamin D supplement*. Some babies are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency and may need more supplements if:
     

    They are exclusively breastfed

    They have darker skin

    They live in a northern community, or

    Their mother has low vitamin D.

    Vitamin D supplements should be given based on your baby's needs. To find the right amount of vitamin D for your baby talk to your health care provider or contact the Northwestern Health Unit.

     
    *supplementation of 10 micrograms

Chronic Disease Prevention

  • Q:
    Am I at risk for developing diabetes?
    A:

    There are a lot of different risk factors for developing Type 2 diabetes. Find out your risk by doing the Canadian Diabetes Risk Questionnaire. It's easy and confidential.

Want to ask a question? Email: talkpublichealth@nwhu.on.ca