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Written by Dr.Swati Rajagopal

The National Law School of India University (NLSIU) has detected three confirmed cases of chickenpox on campus and has declared a ten-day holiday. The students and faculty have been evacuated and the fumigation process is on in full swing. Classes will commence on August 8.

According to the health wing of the BBMP, similar cases of chickenpox have been detected in and around the NLSIU in Nagarbhavi. But the BBMP is doing nothing to ensure that the disease doesn’t spread. There is no effort to create awareness among the people about chickenpox, its symptoms and precautions.

Vice-chancellor and Dr R Venkata Rao, professor of law, NLSIU, points out that after three students were infected with chickenpox, it was decided to shut the college because all the students and faculty stay on the campus. The scare of the disease spreading prompted the management to temporarily close down NLSIU. “We have taken all measures to fumigate the classrooms, hostel and every nook and corner of the campus. This is a proactive approach that we have taken so as to prevent the further spread of the disease,” says Venkata Rao.

He says the curriculum schedules have been reworked so that the students are not put under any pressure. Venkata Rao says, “The foreign students have been relocated to NLS guest houses and those from the neighbouring states have gone back to their homes.” Susmit Paul, president of the Student Bar Association says, “We have all been asked to go home. It’s done as a precautionary measure since all of us stay on campus.”

Manoranjan Hegde, deputy health officer (BBMP), notes that nothing can be done except make people aware of the disease and urge them to maintain personal hygiene. “Chickenpox is an airborne disease and begins with a normal cold and cough. It’s hard to tell the difference. People must maintain personal hygiene and the infected must be kept in isolation,” says Manoranjan.

Dr Swati Rajagopal, consultant — infectious diseases, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital says that she has been seeing at least two to three cases of chickenpox in a week, all aged between 20 and 30 years. Swati points out that chickenpox begins with a normal cold, cough, body pain and high fever. “It is only after three to four days that blisters or what we call vesicles start forming on the skin. The natural spread of infection is rampant before the vesicles appear,” she says. Swati observes that the disease is more severe in adults than in children. “Not only do the scars remain for long. The more severe cases lead to pneumonia and a state called encephalitis, which is an infection of the central nervous system. A vaccination guarantees only 95 per cent immunity against contracting the disease,” she adds.

Dr Dwijendra Prasad, consultant internal medicine, BGS Global Hospital says that he hasn’t come across any such cases of late but he doesn’t believe in vaccination for chickenpox. “Vaccination does not guarantee immunity against contracting the disease. The infected must be nursed in isolation. The scars and fever must be treated with anti viral-agents. Chickenpox spreads when the blisters have liquid in them. The person begins to recover only when the blisters burst,” says Dwijendra.

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