Health District reports chicken pox - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Health District reports chicken pox

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The Southwest Georgia Health District reports that 30 cases of chicken pox in Mitchell County.  The childhood disease is reported in two schools- North Mitchell Elementary and Baconton Charter- and two daycare centers.

Here is more information from the Health District--

An outbreak of chickenpox in Mitchell County is prompting reminders by Southwest Health District for parents to keep sick children home until they are no longer contagious and to make sure family members are up-to-date on vaccine-preventable disease immunizations.

"Cases of chickenpox have been confirmed at a childcare facility and three schools in Mitchell County," said Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant. Cases are usually mild, but occasionally chickenpox can have serious complications such as pneumonia.

Chickenpox is spread by respiratory droplets or by direct contact with the rash of an infected person, Grant said. Symptoms develop in two to three weeks and may include mild fever, feeling tired and skin rash. The rash begins as itchy red spots that become fluid-filled blisters within hours.

She said to avoid giving children aspirin and products that contain aspirin, which has been linked to Reyes Syndrome.

"It's important to know that 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."

However, those exposed to chickenpox are infectious one to two days before the first raised red spot appears until all the blisters have formed scabs and 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, so it is crucial that parents, guardians, teachers and healthcare providers know the signs and symptoms of the disease, have up-to-date vaccinations, stay home when sick and keep sick children home, she said.

In addition during a chickenpox outbreak, public health recommends children who have received one dose of chickenpox vaccine should have a second dose:

  • at least three months after the first if they are between 12 months and 13 years old
  • at least four weeks after the first dose if they are 13 years old and older

Further, said Grant, chickenpox vaccine should not be given to pregnant women. "Pregnant women who are around someone with chickenpox should promptly inform their OB provider," she said. "Pregnant women who are not immune can be particularly susceptible to complications from chickenpox, as can their unborn babies."

Chickenpox is not the only vaccine-preventable childhood disease to pop up in Southwest Health District - or the rest of the state and the nation - recently, Grant pointed out. Last year public health officials here saw a rise in cases of pertussis, or whooping cough. Instances of measles have also been reported.

"To help stay safe, it is important that you and your children who are able to get vaccinated are fully immunized.  This not only protects your family, but also helps prevent the spread of 14 vaccine-preventable childhood diseases to your friends, loved ones and the community," Grant said.

For more information about chickenpox or immunizations, contact your county health department, your healthcare provider, or go online to www.southwestpublichealth.org or www.cdc.gov.

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