Chicken Pox and Group A Strep

I would like to comment on the Web Doctor's response to whether or not to get the Chicken Pox vaccine. I appreciate that he gave the pros, cons & his opinion. I want you to hear my story and you may want to elaborate on the pro side. I agree with you that in most children it is just annoying. However, I feel that you should let others know that children do die from it.

My son was a strong, healthy 3 year old. He died 22 days after his first pox mark. Aaron underwent 3 surgeries to remove fluids from the lung & heart. He was scheduled for a 4th surgery on the day he died. He developed Group A Strep which ate at his aorta. His direct cause of death was a rupture to the ascending aorta. I realize that not all children die from chicken pox, but I do know that other children have died.

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Robert Steele

Robert W. Steele, MD, is a board certified pediatrician at St. John's Regional Health Center in Springfield, MO. He graduated from medical... Read more

I am so sorry for your tragedy. Having two young children myself, I can only imagine the anguish you went through and are still dealing with now. But thank you so much for sharing your story. Group A Strep infection after chicken pox, particularly a serious one like your son's, is one of the strongest arguments for immunizing all children against chicken pox.

Group A Strep is the type of bacteria that causes strep throat. However, this same bacteria may cause infections of the skin as well. Infections of the skin with Group A Strep are rather uncommon. However, it has been known for quite some time when they do occur, it was often shortly after having gotten chicken pox. The reasons for this are still unknown. Most feel it is due to the breakdown of skin that occurs when the pox lesions develop, but there are other theories as well. Most of the time, antibiotics taken by mouth or by IV keep these infections in check when they occur. However, sometimes these infections become life threatening by involving deeper tissues which require surgery which is, unfortunately, what occurred with Aaron.

I think stories like yours, Claudia, are excellent reasons for advocating the use of the chicken pox vaccine. And everytime I hear of a case of serious bacterial infection following chicken pox, I reevaluate my stand on the issue. My biggest concern, as I stated in my previous answer, is the fear that these serious infections as well as complications from the chicken pox itself may occur to the adults who received the vaccine should the vaccine happen to wear off in later life. The answer to this question is simply not known and won't be known for at least another decade. One must weigh the risks of possible complications if the vaccine is not given versus the potential risk of getting chicken pox as an adult when complications are more common and more serious. As with most issues concerning the health of children, the decision to get the chicken pox vaccine should be made jointly between the doctor and the parents. Aaron's story should be kept in mind when deciding whether to get the vaccine. Thank you for sharing.

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