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State sees 57 percent increase in chickenpox cases

Doctor with stethoscope photo
Alex Proimos via Wikimedia | CC BY 2.0

State officials encourage families to keep up-to-date on vaccinations after seeing a more than 50 percent jump in chickenpox cases this year.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services says initial numbers show 239 chickenpox cases reported in 2016 through April.

That’s 57 percent higher than last year.

The MDHHS says nearly all outbreaks this year occurred in individuals who were not vaccinated.

Chickenpox is a highly-contagious virus well-known for its itchy rash along with fever, headache and other symptoms. The virus can stay in the body indefinitely and can later cause shingles.

Muskegon was one of several counties warning of outbreaks at the end of last year. Cases were also reported more recently in Hillsdale and St. Joseph counties.

MDHHS Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Eden Wells says the chickenpox vaccine is safe, effective and required for children in day care and schools.

Officials say chickenpox used to be very common, but Michigan has seen a more than 97 percent decline since the vaccination was first licensed about 20 years ago.

Hilary is a General Assignment and Enterprise reporter for WGVU Public Media. She joined WGVU in September 2014 after several years of experience as a local news reporter, anchor and photojournalist in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties. She's also worked as a financial and business reporter and audio field producer.
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