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New CDC Report Says Chickenpox is Now the Leading Cause of Vaccine Preventable Deaths in Children in the United States



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Centers for Disease Control



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According to an article in the May 15, 1998 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), varicella-related deaths in children continue to occur in the United States, despite the availability of a vaccine and recommendations for its use in all susceptible children by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices at the CDC, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Academy of Family Physicians.

Although chickenpox is often considered a benign disease, serious complications and even death can occur. The most common severe complications from varicella among fatal cases in children are secondary bacterial infections and pneumonia. Other complications include encephalitis (swelling of the brain), hemorrhagic complications, hepatitis, arthritis and Reye's syndrome. Ninety percent of children who die do not have "high risk" conditions for severe disease.

States are encouraged to develop surveillance systems to monitor hospitalizations, establish statewide reporting for schools, daycare and health care providers and to consider instituting vaccine requirements for daycare and school entry.

For More Information:

A copy of MMWR can be obtained on the web at www.cdc.gov , or by contacting: Charlis Thompson CDC Press Officer 404-639-3286.
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