Child diagnosed with chickenpox after playing in football carnival

A child who competed in a central Queensland touch football carnival at the weekend has been diagnosed with chickenpox and health authorities are urging anyone who attended the event who is experiencing symptoms to seek medical advice.

Rockhampton Touch Football was notified by a parent that the boy, who played in the under-10 division at the Red Rooster Junior Carnival, had been diagnosed with the virus.

Organisers of the event said 107 teams from Mackay, Capricorn Coast, Gladstone, Calliope, Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Gin Gin took part in the two-day competition.

The organisers posted the chickenpox alert to social media this morning.

“His rash appeared later on Saturday and his parents thought it was from the heat … overnight it became obvious it was chickenpox and he did not attend on Sunday,” the organisers said.

Dr Jon Harper, general practice liaison officer at Central Queensland, Wide Bay and Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network, said chickenpox was a virus that was relatively mild in children but could be severe for adults, people with low immunity and pregnant women.

“The parents just need to be on the lookout for those symptoms of chickenpox.”

Dr Harper said symptoms began with a general cold that turned into a low-grade fever with a runny nose, sneezing and coughing.

“A couple of days later you develop the rash … with tiny little blisters that emerge in little crops around the body.

Warning for pregnant women

Dr Harper is urging any pregnant women who attended the carnival to see their doctor.

“It’s very important for women, particularly any pregnant women, who may have been at the touch footy carnival who are not clear on their chickenpox immunity … to talk to their doctors.”

Value of vaccination

Dr Harper said the incident proved the importance of widespread vaccinations to create immunity within communities.

Most children in Australia were being immunised from 18 months with the chickenpox vaccine, he said.

“We want people to carry on their normal lives,” he said.

“In an ideal world that individual perhaps should have stayed at home when they were unwell with a rash but this is the nature of life.

The event organisers said they hoped the measures taken to be COVID-safe during the carnival would have reduced the risk of transmission of the chickenpox virus as well.

Dr Harper said it was likely hand washing and social distancing would have limited the spread of the virus.