Chickenpox cases on the rise in Montana youth, state says

Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services officials are reporting a recent increase in the number of cases of chickenpox reported in school-aged children.

In 2022, there were 23 reported cases of chickenpox in Montana. Cases ranged in people from 1 to over 65. One infant and one young adult required hospitalization.

Early numbers from 2023 show 18 reported cases of chickenpox with no known hospitalizations, officials said. Six cases were reported during the same period last year, which is a 200% increase in cases year-to-date. Shingles is not a reportable condition; therefore, there is no data on the number of cases last year in Montana.

At least half of these infections were acquired from an adult family member with shingles. Chickenpox, or varicella, can be a serious illness and is easily preventable with vaccination, health officials said in a news release.

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“The best way to protect yourself and your child from chickenpox is vaccination,” says Jessica Lopeman, a registered nurse and epidemiologist with DPHHS.

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services building in

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