Kentucky health officials are reporting a chickenpox outbreak at a school in the city of Walton.
There are currently 32 cases at the Students at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy to date.
“Although we have been working with the school to contain the illnesses since February,” stated Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health at the Northern Kentucky Health Department, “the Health Department has recently seen a concerning increase in the number of infected students at the school which has prompted us to take further control measures at the school and to make the public aware that chickenpox may be in the community.”
As a result of the continued increase in cases and to prevent further spread of this illness, the Northern Kentucky Health Department has instructed that all students without proof of vaccination or proof of immunity against chickenpox will not be allowed to attend school until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last ill student or staff member.
In addition, all school events and extracurricular activities involving other schools or the public will continue to be cancelled until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last ill student or staff member. These events would include any instances where students from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy are going into other schools/public areas, or the public/other schools are coming to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy. Events include but are not limited to sporting events (including both home and away games), fairs, festivals, music events, etc.
Parents of students have also been notified to monitor their children for symptoms for the duration of the outbreak and to minimize contact with others in the community, especially avoiding infants, pregnant women and individuals known to be immunocompromised.
Chickenpox (varicella) is easily passed from one person to another through the air by coughing or sneezing or through the fluid from a blister of a person who has chickenpox. Although it is usually not a serious illness, it often causes children and their parents to miss days at school and work. Most cases of chickenpox in healthy children are treated with bed rest, fluids, and fever control.
Chickenpox can be more severe and cause more complications in immunocompromised persons, children younger than 1 year of age and adults. Severe complications include bacterial skin infections, bloodstream infections, pneumonia, encephalitis (infection of the brain) and death.
It is important to be aware that even healthy children and adults may develop serious complications and die from varicella. Another high-risk group is pregnant women who, if they become ill with varicella, can have pregnancy complications. Not only is chickenpox painful, but once you have been infected with chickenpox, you are at risk of getting shingles later in life, which is also very painful and can cause lasting chronic pain in adults.
The chickenpox vaccine is the best way to prevent becoming ill and spreading the varicella virus. It is very safe and prevents almost all cases of severe illness.
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