Varicela in Valencia: to vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

We had a lovely time in the UK this summer avoiding the heat, and a relaxed journey back across France. But in amongst the jars of Branston Pickle and bottles of Shepherd Neame ales, we also brought with us a dose of chickenpox.

When I was growing up in Britain the majority of us had the illness at some point and my parents have told me that they were keen for us to catch it so we would be immune. I’ve even heard talk of ‘chickenpox parties’, although this does seem a bit extreme. The logic being that it’s far better to have it when young than as an adult.

I believe thirty or forty years ago the situation was the same here in Spain. Now, however, those thirty or forty-somethingers are themselves parents and we have been offered the option of a vaccination for our little ones. Many, like us, jumped at the opportunity of keeping our little darlings from suffering the way we did and had them vaccinated at great cost. (Back in the UK I understand the old method of having chickenpox is still the preferred option.)

Getting back to this summer, we had been back in Spain for about a week when our nearly-four-year-old developed what we took to be coldsores around her mouth. When zovirax did nothing and more and more began to appear, we took her to see a doctor, who after a quick check said they were indeed coldsores (herpes), nothing to do with the few spots that had appeared on her chest and to continue with the zovirax and Dalsy. As there had been no fever it didn’t seem that worrying.

After spending a dreadful night tossing and turning and scratching her head (which sent her mother into panicked combing for headlice) the next day there were more ‘coldsores’ so we went in search of a second opinion. This doctor, who has had years of experience dealing with tourists, told us instantly it was chickenpox (varicela) and was quite adamant to point out that we could not travel to the UK until it had completely cleared up. I had to explain several times that we had come FROM the UK and weren’t going back! He also told us that there is no chickenpox in Spain at the moment (ie the summer) as it cannot survive the heat but is more common here in the Spring. Of course, that makes perfect sense……Spanish spring =English Summer!

However, we were still left with the problem of the misdiagnosis and a day of treatment wasted. And it seems we are not the only ones; one of my nephews had the illness and the doctor took far too long reaching the correct diaqgnosis, after attributing the boy’s state to various causes such as tonsillitis.

He too had been vaccinated against chickenpox and in both cases the illness itself appeared in a lighter and therefore more difficult to diagnose, form. Maybe the lack of a high fever and slightly fewer spots is a benefit worth having.

However, I can’t help wondering if it was worth having them vaccinated at all if the only result is a delay in a correct diagnosis.

Tags: 
varicela
chicken pox
doctor
illness

Recent Articles

published 3 years 3 months ago

Recent Tweets

Copyright 2005-2017. Catherine Dolan Blogger - Design by  Creative Limón Back to Top

Back to Top