In early September, the Kansas City Royals were leading their MLB division. Then a pox landed on their clubhouse; chickenpox, that is. Star relief pitcher Kelvin Herrera and right fielder Alex Rios came down with the disease. They’re from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, respectively, where vaccines — and chickenpox as a childhood disease — are not common.
In this country, where the chickenpox vaccine was added to the childhood immunization schedule in 1995 (the booster in 2006), chickenpox is pretty rare. But chickenpox is a highly contagious disease, and players come in constant contact with other players, coaches, reporters and fans — who may be immune because they’ve had CP or been inoculated, or not.
When an adult gets the chickenpox, severe complications can follow. They include: bacterial infections of the skin, soft tissues, bones, joints or bloodstream; pneumonia; toxic shock syndrome; Reye’s syndrome if you’re taking aspirin; and encephalitis (dysfunction of the brain often follows, as does a decrease in coordination). Dr. Steven Gordon, chairman of the department of infectious diseases at Dr. Mike’s Cleveland Clinic, told CBS News, chickenpox “can be more severe in adults, but it’s especially a concern for pregnant women. The fatality rate can be quite high.”
So if you or anyone in your family isn’t immune, don’t be a “Royal Nincompoop.” Get inoculated ASAP. If you catch chickenpox, best case is itchy blisters all over your body, (scratch them and you scar) and you miss two weeks of work. Worst case? Dr. Gordon just told you.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit sharecare.com.