Spike in cases of highly-contagious disease
CHICKENPOX is making a comeback on the Gold Coast, with 120 cases reported across the city in the past month.
But medical experts fear the worst is yet to come as parents fail to keep up with their children's vaccinations and health checks during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to health data, there's been a 46 per cent spike in the year-to-date average, with 817 cases so far this year compared to 634 at the same time last year and 435 in 2015.
Last week there were 30 cases reported on the Gold Coast, with Pacific Pines State High School alerting parents to cases of chickenpox in the school on August 18.
A student from Helensvale State High School has come into contact with a confirmed case and a child from Park Lake State School was diagnosed with the highly contagious disease.
Gold Coast Primary Health Network Dr Roger Halliwell said a spike in diseases and the worsening of chronic illness was unfortunately to be expected during a global pandemic.
"When you get to situations as we've got with COVID, people become fearful of attending their GP for routine stuff such as vaccines and the vaccination rate drops off a little bit," he said.
"So it's not surprising chickenpox has reared its head, particularly as it's much more contagious than coronavirus.
"It just starts with a couple of cases then more cases and away it goes. Right now people just don't have their eye on that particular ball.
"GPs across the Gold Coast have told me dozens of examples of how people have delayed medical checks only to be told something such as a breast lump was further down the line than they'd like it to be.
"We implore everyone to continue seeing their GP for routine checks because they're safe places to attend because doctors don't see sick people with respiratory symptoms. These people attend COVID testing clinics or call telehealth."
According to Queensland Health, chickenpox (varicella) is a highly contagious disease that starts with cold-like symptoms such as a mild fever, headache, runny nose and cough. A day or so later a rash begins, starting as small pink blotches but quickly moving to itchy blisters that usually last three-four days before drying out and scabbing.
People are infectious for about 1-2 days before the onset of the rash and until the blisters have all scabbed. The average time between contact with the virus and illness developing is about 14-16 days.
Anyone with chickenpox should avoid childcare, schools or work for at least five days after the rash first appears and until dry scabs have replaced all blisters.
Originally published as Spike in cases of highly-contagious disease on Coast