By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Health officials in Rusk County, Wisconsin are reporting a chickenpox outbreak at Ladysmith Elementary School. According to Rusk County Health Officer, Dawn Brost, RN, “Five cases of the virus have been confirmed”. Four of the cases were classified as “Breakthrough Chickenpox”, in which the disease is seen in people that have been vaccinated. This is typically a milder manifestation; however, still a contagious situation.

Image/Robert Herriman

Rusk County Health officials say children with chickenpox should stay at home until all lesions have crusted over.

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.

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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.

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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.

Health department officials said they are offering chickenpox vaccines for free to anyone who has not yet received the shot.

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