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Is increase in WBCs a cause of worry?

Q: My 1.2 years old daughter was affected by chicken pox recently. Though she has almost recovered from it, she is suffering from high temperature. She has swelling around her legs and hands. We consulted a paediatrician, who suggested a blood test. The blood test reveals that there is a huge increase of total WBC - 21700 cells/cumm and her RBCs are predominantly normochromic normocytic. Her paediatrician started treating her to reduce the WBC count, but the very next day he told us that he was not able to identify the problem. Please tell us if there is anything serious.

A:Chickenpox is a mild, self-limiting viral illness commonly seen in children. Occasionally, there may be serious complications. The diagnosis is usually made by a clinical examination, as there is a characteristic rash. As your daughter has a prominent rise in neutrophils (absolute neutrophilia), it suggests a secondary bacterial infection. Please show her to an experienced paediatrician who can examine her and advise appropriately. This should not be neglected, as it is important to exclude secondary pneumonia or streptococcal infection.

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