5 new chickenpox cases recorded at Lusignan Prison

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana
The Lusignan Prison

In the past week, the Health Ministry recorded a total of five new chickenpox cases at the Lusignan Prison, East Coast Demerara (ECD).

This was confirmed by the Advisor to the Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy during an interview with this publication.

According to Dr Ramsammy, the individuals are being treated and monitored by relevant personnel and the situation is being effectively managed.

Health Advisor Dr Leslie Ramsammy

Before the new cases surfaced, the Ministry announced a significant decline in infected persons and announced that 28 persons were isolated and being monitored. Isolation numbers remain the same; however, the number of vaccinated persons grew to 538.

Currently, there are about 12 active cases due to the vaccination and treatment efforts spearheaded by the Ministry in collaboration with the Guyana Prison Service (GPS).

“Among the measures we have taken is to provide antivirals to treat the patients, and also calamine lotion to help relieve the itching,” he explained.

When the initial cases were diagnosed, precautions were swiftly implemented, including the segregation of affected prisoners, assessment of exposed staff members, and provision of vaccination where necessary.

Regarding visitor surveillance, Dr Ramsammy emphasised the importance of contact tracing, considering the potential for asymptomatic transmission.

“Medical and surveillance teams are diligently tracing contacts to pinpoint the origin of the infection to contain the spread within the Lusignan Prison. And proactive measures are being extended to other prison facilities, with medical teams conducting surveillance and screening exercises, and staff members being offered vaccinations as a preventive measure.”

The chickenpox outbreak at the Lusignan Prison was confirmed in late March, whereby there were 25 active cases alongside 28 individuals in recovery. Initially, the outbreak had affected a total of 53 inmates.

Dr Ramsammy at the time stated that the possibility of the outbreak originating from a newly-admitted inmate who may have been exposed in their home environment.

Signs and symptoms

Chickenpox, also called varicella, is characterised by itchy red blisters that appear all over the body.

It often affects children, and was so common it was considered a childhood rite of passage. However, it’s very rare to have a chickenpox infection more than once.

Nevertheless, the virus is contagious to those around the infected individual for one to two days before blisters appear. As a result, the virus can spread through saliva, coughing, sneezing, and contact with fluid from the blisters.

Exposure to the virus through previous active infection or vaccination reduces risk. Immunity from the virus can be passed on from a mother to her newborn. Immunity lasts about three months from birth.