MANILA, Philippines - With many Filipinos getting chickenpox (bulutong tubig) nowadays, the Department of Health (DOH) warned the public to be wary against this contagious disease.
The DOH has reminded pregnant women to take extra precaution as contracting chickenpox during the first trimester of pregnancy may result in abnormalities in the fetus.
"Maaaring maapektuhan ang ipinagbubuntis, congenital, maaaring lumaki o lumiit ang ulo," said Dr. Eric Tayag, spokesperson of the DOH.
According to the DOH, chickenpox is a viral infection and is one of the most infectious ones around. In fact, it is already contagious even at the onset of the first symptoms of fever and body aches, and more so when the chickenpox blisters appear.
To help prevent further spread of infection, the DOH asked those with chickenpox to remain at home.
"Sa mga may bulutong, 'wag na lumabas ng bahay para di na makapanghawa at dapat din ang mga magbabantay sa may bulutong ay nagkabulutong na para di na sila mahawa," said Tayag.
Those who have already had chickenpox are immune for life, he said.
Hospitals are now observing extra measures in treating patients with chickenpox so as not to spread the infection to other patients.
In San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, patients with chickenpox are confined in isolation rooms.
The virus is spread via droplets in the air as a result of coughing and sneezing by an infected person.
It is also passed on easily when the skin of an infected person comes into contact with a non-infected person.
At San Lazaro Hospital, 300 chickenpox cases are recorded every year. Three cases have resulted in death as a result of complications.
Almost 50 cases of chickenpox have been recorded since January, according to latest data.
Tayag said, however, that there is a vaccine against chickenpox. -- Report from Sol Aragones, ABS-CBN News