Chickenpox and pneumonia plague children with supressed bone marrow during chemotherapy.
These conditions can rapidly become life threatening for a child with a compromised immune system. Suspected exposure or infection require immediate specialist treatment to protect the child.
Monitor and reduce your child’s exposure to risk by educating people in her circle of care and enlisting their help to protect her.
Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lungs, caused by bacterial or viral infection. Symptoms include chills, fever, sore throat, rapid breathing, chest pain, cough, and bloody sputum.
Low blood counts mean the child’s condition may quickly become fatal, so prompt, aggressive therapy is vital. Contact your child’s doctor immediately if you notice any of the above symptoms.
A common childhood disease, chickenpox is caused by the varicella zoster virus. Initial symptoms include fever, headache and general malaise. Red spots typically begin on the stomach, chest or back, and develop into blister‑like sores which break open and scab over within three to five days. .
Patients are contagious for up to 48 hours after onset of the sores. The virus can be transmitted through physical contact or by breathing contaminated air.
Untreated, chickenpox can quickly become fatal for a child on chemotherapy. So it is vital that you take every precaution to prevent exposure during your child’s treatment, and maintain a heightened vigilance for early symptoms.
Shingles (herpes zoster) is a potential risk if your child has already had chickenpox. Call the doctor immediately if you see small spots, similar to chickenpox, develop in lines along the nerves. Treatment is the same as for chickenpox.
Exposure occurs if your child comes into direct contact with an affected person or stays in a presumably contaminated room for ten minutes or more. Call your child’s doctor immediately following suspected exposure.
A Varicella Zoster Immune Globin (ZVIG) injection within 72 hours of exposure may prevent onset of the disease or minimize its effects. Treatment during chemotherapy is usually intravenous acyclovir, a powerful antiviral medication that has dramatically lowered the risk of complications.
Reduce Exposure Risk
Educate your child’s teachers and friends’ parents on the need to be vigilant for, and report, any signs of outbreak. This will enable you to minimise your child’s risk of exposure.
For example, if the nursery or school notifies you of any chickenpox cases, you can keep your child home from class until the outbreak is over.
We have prepared a template letter you can edit and send to your child’s daycare, nursery or school to help you develop a protection plan.