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Chickenpox Outbreaks Among Vaccinated Children
Officials wonder if its due to a new strain or ineffective vaccine…
Chicken pox outbreak
By Matt Clower, The Messenger
Troy Elementary School nurse Sarah Black should probably go ahead and get a revolving door for her office. It would help with all the traffic coming in and out these days.
TES is the midsts of the worst outbreak of chicken pox the school has faced in eight years – an outbreak made more surprising because most all the affected students have previously received chicken pox vaccinations.
Black said she could hardly believe it when the first students started showing up in her office with the characteristic red, itchy spots.
“I was in denial at first, I said this can’t possibly be chicken pox,” Black said.
Oh, but was it ever chicken pox, and it has spread like wildfire. Since the first student was diagnosed in late January, over 40 students in every grade have come down with it.
In recent years, the numbers of chicken pox cases at TES had been dramatically reduced by the chicken pox vaccination which is now required for all incoming students. In eight years, Black said she had seen only one student with a case.
This recent outbreak appears to be a new mutation of the virus, Black said, and the Alabama Department of Public Health is calling it a second generation breakthrough.
ADPH official Peggy Searcy said the department is not officially committing on the situation at this time, but she did confirm that the ADPH is aware of the situation at TES and is monitoring it. She also said the ADPH was not making any recommendations regarding a booster shot for the vaccination at this time. Searcy said TES was the only school in the eight counties of the area ten region to report cases of chicken pox.
TES teacher Gloria Blackmon’s son Hunter is thought to be the first case in the outbreak. She said even the doctors office was hesitant at first to believe Hunter could have chicken pox after he’d received the vaccination.
“I called and the nurse said ‘Oh, he doesn’t have chicken pox’,” Blackmon said. “But as soon as I brought him in, they said to take him out of school.”
Chicken pox is highly contagious, and actually starts becoming contagious two weeks before the first pox appear, Black said. Infected children remain contagious until all of the pox have dried up and scabbed over.
Until then, Black said it is imperative for parents to keep those children out of school to avoid spreading the virus.
Black said most of the infected students are experiencing only a mild case of chicken pox, with just a few visible spots and few students reporting a fever.
Although one more student was diagnose with chicken pox on Friday, Black said the disease does appear to be tapering off and she hopes the impending Spring Break holiday will give the outbreak a chance to run its course without spreading to more students.
Other local school systems confirmed they have not yet experienced an outbreak of chicken pox.
Dwight Ward, Pike Liberal Arts headmaster, said he was not aware of any cases of chicken pox and reported the school was experiencing normal levels of fu and other seasonal sickness.
Ward said because of the school’s smaller size, in the past outbreaks of sickness have spread quickly and resulted in large numbers of absences. But he said that has not happened so far this year.
Pike County Elementary School has also been free of chicken pox so far, but is battling traditional seasonal outbreaks of flu and stomach virus, said nurse Betty Vance.
Vance said stomach viruses are unpredictable and difficult to prevent, but she said flu, and even chicken pox to an extent, can be avoided by good hand washing.
“Good hand washing is the most important thing as far as preventing sickness. Kids come to school and pick things up off of door handles or from each other. A lot of that ca be prevented by regular hand washing,” Vance said. “And not just at school but at home too, A lot of people think that germs wont be as bad at home but they are.”
Black encouraged adults to be cautious when around a child affected with chicken pox. The same virus that causes chicken pox in a child can cause shingles in an adult.
Black also reminded parents not to use aspirin to treat children infected with chicken pox, as it can lead to a potently fatal complication
COLCHESTER — State health experts are investigating an outbreak of chicken pox in Colchester. 65 students at the Jack Jackter Elementary School got chicken pox last year. It was one of the largest outbreaks in the state. The Centers for Disease Control is also involved in the investigation. That’s because some of the students who got sick were vaccinated against chicken pox. The chicken pox vaccine has a 20-percent failure rate.
Elgin ISD Experiencing Chicken Pox Outbreak
Feb 20, 2006
(CBS 42) More than 40 kids were out of school today in Elgin after an outbreak of chicken pox.
School officials at Elgin Independent School District say on Friday they had 61 cases of chicken pox and strangely, school records show most of the kids have already been immunized.
No other schools are affected and it’s a mystery as to what is going on.
Blood testing shows this is an ‘atypical’ form of the disease and it’s milder than it normally is.
Chickenpox outbreak zeroes in on school
Hazel Green kids discover vaccine is no guarantee
Thursday, December 15, 2005
By PATRICIA C. McCARTER
Times Staff Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Even though chickenpox vaccinations are required for kindergarten through fourth-grade students, more than 100 students at Hazel Green Elementary have missed school over the past two months because of the highly contagious disease.
Why? The vaccine is no guarantee.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one or two children in 10 who are immunized against varicella – the scientific name for chickenpox – will catch the virus. The good news is that those who get the vaccination usually get a mild case, with fewer than 50 blisters and low fever.
Schools are accustomed to seeing a few cases of chickenpox, but Madison County Schools nursing supervisor Shealy Lynn said Hazel Green’s numbers seem abnormally high. County Health Department employees visited the school Wednesday to audit immunization records, also known as “blue slips,” to figure out why that school has been so hard hit.
“Immunization rates are high here,” said disease intervention specialist Lisa Thomason. “It’s not really that surprising that there are still cases happening. The vaccine isn’t close to being 100 percent effective.
“At least the kids who are getting the disease aren’t getting the worst case of it. Most of them are back at school within two or three days.”
The most contagious phase of the disease occurs before the infected person knows he’s sick, according to the CDC.
Chickenpox outbreak investigated at Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau
January 20, 2006
GALESVILLE, Wis. – Health officials are looking into an outbreak of chickenpox in the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District in which all except two of the 44 affected children had been vaccinated against the illness.
Dan Hopfensperger, director of the Wisconsin Immunization Program, said the outbreak is the largest among vaccinated children he can recall in the state.
The outbreak began in mid-November at the Kindernook Learning Center, where 36 of 99 kindergartners developed chickenpox.
The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services said it is trying to determine why so many vaccinated students developed the illness, when health experts rate the vaccine as from 85 percent to 97 percent effective.
“We’re way above the 15 percent,” Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau school nurse Barbara Hogden said.
Hogden said the vaccine is fragile and must be stored frozen. But she said the infected students obtained vaccinations from a number of different providers, and no manufacturer has reported a bad batch of vaccine.
Only one of the district’s chickenpox cases cannot be traced back to the kindergarten building, Hogden said, and that student was not vaccinated.
So Cal Chicken Pox Outbreak Raises Concern –Rash Of New Cases Reported
By Shawn McGinnis, KTLA News
March 3, 2006, 6:06 PM PST
ORANGE COUNTY — A rash of chickenpox cases in Orange County is prompting health officials to urge parents to get their children vaccinated.
Several school districts have reported a recent outbreak of the highly infectious disease.
The virus causes blister-like rashes on the skin, usually on the face, scalp or body. High fever, itching, dehydration or headache may also occur. And those with weakened immune systems may have more severe complications.
Chickenpox is generally spread from person to person through direct contact or through the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Health officials urge anyone who contracts the virus to stay home until the rash has completely crusted over, which usually occurs four to five days after the rash begins.
Vaccination is recommended for children and adults who have not had chickenpox.