San Diego man dies from chickenpox

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SAN DIEGO – A 51-year-old man died of complications from chickenpox, county health officials said Wednesday.

The man, only identified as a San Diego resident, had underlying medical conditions and became ill after exposure to a person with shingles, San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency said.  He died on July 15.

The last person to die from chickenpox in San Diego was a non-resident child in 2012, said Tom Christensen of the county health department. A 50-year-old San Diego man died from chickenpox in 2010.

“The best way to prevent illnesses caused by the varicella-zoster virus is for children to get two doses of the chickenpox vaccine and adults to get the shingles vaccine when recommended,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “These vaccines are very safe and effective.”

Chickenpox is easily spread by coughing, sneezing or being in contact with chickenpox blisters. Symptoms of chickenpox include a skin rash of blister-like lesions covering the body but usually more concentrated on the face, scalp, and trunk. The risk of complications increases after puberty and includes bacterial infection of skin lesions, dehydration and pneumonia, Christensen said.