A person who attended Mardi Gras 2021 events has been diagnosed with chickenpox.

Chickenpox is a viral illness caused by the Herpes Zoster virus and is a notifiable condition in all states in Australia, except in New South Wales.

Notifiable condition means that after a diagnosis medical practitioners and pathology services are required to notify public health authorities about the case. In Victoria it is a statutory requirement that authorities must be notified within five days. 

Sydney-based Harbour City Bears alerted about the case on its social media page. According to the social media post, the person attended HCB’s event ‘Massive’ at Kinselas on March 5.

The person also attended The Hide Sydney Leather and Fetish Social event on March 4 and the Mardi Gras Parade at the Sydney Cricket Ground on March 6. The other events attended by the person are not known. 

“Chickenpox is not a notifiable condition in NSW but the incidence is monitored through the number of patients attending emergency departments and the number of patients who are hospitalised with chickenpox or shingles,” according to NSW health. 

“People at high risk of complications following exposure include: pregnant women who have not had chickenpox and who have not been immunised; newborn babies, and; some people with immunosuppression due to illness or treatments.”

What Is Chickenpox?

“Chickenpox is a viral illness caused by human herpesvirus 3 (HHV-3) or varicella zoster virus (VZV). In children, it usually causes a relatively mild illness but it may reappear in life as Shingles. Chickenpox in adults and immunosuppressed people can be severe. Infection in pregnancy can cause malformations, skin scarring, and other problems in the baby.”

What Are The Symptoms?

The incubation period is 2–3 weeks and is usually 14–16 days.

“Chickenpox (varicella) begins with a sudden onset of slight fever, runny nose, feeling generally unwell and a skin rash. The rash usually begins as small lumps that turn into blisters and then scabs. The rash appears over three to four days. At any one time, the lesions of the rash vary in stages of development.

Most people recover without complications, but sometimes the infection can lead to serious complications, such as pneumonia and inflammation of the brain. Rarely, the infection can be fatal. People who are previously vaccinated can still get chickenpox…[but] it is usually mild.”

How Is It Spread?

According to VIC Health, “It is usually communicable for 1–2 days before the onset of the rash, continuing until all the lesions are crusted.”

“Early in the illness, the virus is spread by coughing. Later in the illness, the virus is spread by direct contact with the fluid in the blisters. The infection is highly contagious to people who have never had the chickenpox or have not been vaccinated,” says NSW Health. 

How Is It Prevented?

“A varicella-containing vaccine (MMRV-measles, mumps, rubella, varicella) is now recommended and funded for all children at 18 months of age.

If you haven’t had chickenpox as a child or were not vaccinated, speak to your doctor.

For more information about chickenpox, check the NSW Health and VIC Health pages.


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