Scientists make surprising chickenpox discovery

Scientists make surprising chickenpox discovery

A new study claims that chickenpox behaves a lot differently than scientists thought.

A new study shows just how much we have yet to discover about even the most common diseases out there.

The study claims that the chickenpox virus may actually be a seasonal disease that strikes most often in the spring, and they’re basing those conclusions off Google, according to a University of Michigan statement.

Researchers used Google Trends to determine if chickenpox was in fact seasonal much like the common cold or the flu. They examined data from 36 countries over a period of 11 years, and found that the virus tends to peak in the spring worldwide, although in countries with vacciations there wasn’t as strong of an association.

The study was mostly limited to temperate regions with internet access. But the findings may actually be useful to countries where the chickenpox vaccine isn’t common. Now that scientists have a grasp on the seasonality of the virus, authorities can better strategize on when the population should receive vaccines.

“It is really exciting to see human information-seeking behavior — Google searches — being reduced by vaccination implementation,” Kevin Bakker, a doctoral student in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, said in the statemetn. “It’s a very clear signal, and it shows that the vaccine is having a strong effect.”

“These results demonstrate that if you institute nationwide vaccination for chickenpox there is a very clear reduction in searches, which is a way to infer a strong reduction in total disease incidence,” he added.

The statement noted: “Bakker and his colleagues found that in the three countries that require reporting of chickenpox cases but do not require vaccination against the disease–Mexico, Thailand and Estonia–Google searches for “chickenpox” were strongly correlated with reported cases. In the United States and Australia, two countries that report chickenpox and require the vaccine, the correlation still held but was weaker.”



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