Chicken Pox cases in older children

Officials: Update chicken pox vaccine

Health officials are stumped as to why an outbreak of chickenpox has sickened more than 40 students at Spruce Creek High School — but they are taking steps to contain it, urging all parents to update their children’s vaccines.

The outbreak has affected just 1.5 percent of the school’s 2,700 students, but it’s been serious enough to warrant the Volusia County Health Department’s involvement as it’s become more serious since the first case was reported in September.

After 30 cases were reported this month, a third automated call went out to the homes of all Spruce Creek High School students Thursday night warning families to keep at home children who are showing signs of the illness that causes blistering and fever.

Today, parents will receive a letter detailing steps to take to ensure children are fully vaccinated.

The puzzling part for officials is that the chickenpox vaccine has been required for entering Volusia County schools since 1995 — about the time today’s high school students started school. Dr. Sanford Zelnick, the Health Department’s medical director, said he believes it’s a result of how the varicella virus that causes chickenpox is evolving.

“It’s hard to postulate why this cluster began,” Zelnick said, pointing out that the Centers for Disease Control began recommending in 2007 that children receive a booster chickenpox vaccine after their initial one. “What I can tell you is that other communities in the United States have noticed this gradual shift of varicella (chickenpox) moving into later childhood.”

The disease kills about 100 people a year, Zelnick said, but most of the time it just puts someone out of commission for four to seven days, causing a rash and a fever.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one dose of the vaccine is about 80 to 85 percent effective. Following the CDC recommendation of a second dose in 2007, the Volusia County school district required the second dose for entrance into pre-kindergarten through sixth grade starting this year, said Nancy Wait, school spokeswoman.

Pediatrician Andrea Thorpe, who practices in Daytona Beach, said she recently had an 11-year-old patient who came down with chickenpox in spite of receiving his vaccination in 2001.

“He had a 104 fever, itching all over, covered (with the rash) from head to toe,” she said. “When you’re older and you get it, you get it bad. It’s miserable.”


See Trading Places

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: