Chickenpox outbreak reported at San Diego charter school - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Chickenpox outbreak reported at San Diego charter school

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A half-dozen students at a charter school in Linda Vista have been diagnosed with chickenpox over the past month and a half, San Diego County health officials reported Friday.

The first student at the San Diego Cooperative Charter School was reported sick March 7, and the most recent diagnosis came Wednesday, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. The patients range in age from 5 to 8, and only one was properly vaccinated, the HHSA reported.

"Chickenpox is a preventable disease," said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county's public health officer. "By having their children immunized with the recommended two doses of the vaccine, parents can help their children avoid chickenpox and prevent it from spreading to others, especially to those who are unable to be vaccinated due to serious medical conditions, and who could become very ill if infected with chickenpox."

The school notified students and staff about the outbreak, as well as the employees at the Mountain View campus because students and staff travel between campuses.

So far this year, 16 cases of chickenpox have been reported to the HHSA, though county health officials usually aren't informed unless there is an outbreak, or if someone is hospitalized or dies.

The highly contagious disease is caused by the varicella virus and is easily spread by coughing, sneezing or being in contact with chickenpox blisters.

Symptoms include a skin rash of blister-like lesions -- covering the body but usually more concentrated on the face, scalp and trunk. The risk of complications increases after puberty and includes bacterial infection of skin lesions, dehydration and pneumonia.

Most, but not all, infected individuals have fever, which develops just before or when the rash appears. If exposed, persons who have been vaccinated against the disease may get a milder illness, with less severe rash and mild or no fever. The illness lasts about 5-10 days.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine. Children should be vaccinated at 12-15 months of age and receive the second dose at 4-6 years of age.

Mmore information on chickenpox and immunizations in general is available from the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966, or online.

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