0

Chickenpox outbreak confirmed

CAMILLA, Ga. -- The Southwest Public Health District has gained more incentive to promote the messages of keeping sick children at home and making sure family members are up-to-date on their

vaccinations.

An outbreak of chickenpox has been confirmed in Mitchell County.

"Cases of chickenpox have been confirmed at a child care facility and three schools in Mitchell County," said Dr. Jacqueline Grant, director of the health district, in a news release.

Cases are usually mild, but occasionally chickenpox can have serious complications, including pneumonia, the release added. The disease is spread by respiratory droplets or by direct contact with the rash of an infected person.

Symptoms develop in two to three weeks and may include a mild fever, feeling tired and a skin rash. The rash begins as itchy red spots that become fluid-filled blisters within hours. Those exposed to chickenpox are infectious from one to two days before the first raised red spot appears until all the blisters have formed scabs.

Those who are infected should not attend school or go to work during that time, Grant stressed.

Chickenpox outbreaks in settings like schools can last up to six months. In light of that, officials stress that parents, guardians, teachers and health care providers know the signs and symptoms of the disease, have up-to-date vaccinations, stay at home when sick and keep sick children at home.

"It's important to know that the chickenpox vaccine can prevent chickenpox," Grant said. "Most people who get the vaccine won't get the disease. If someone who has been vaccinated does get chickenpox, it is usually very mild. They will have fewer blisters, are less likely to have a fever and will recover faster."

In addition, the district recommends that children who have received one dose of the chickenpox vaccine have a second dose at least three months after the first if they are between 12 months and 13 years old, or at least four weeks after the first dose if they are 13 years old and older.

Public health officials advise that the chickenpox vaccine not be given to pregnant women. Grant also said, via the news release, to avoid giving children aspirin and products that contain aspirin -- which has been linked to Reyes Syndrome.