Chicken Pox cases spurs county action | SierraSun.com

Chicken Pox cases spurs county action

A rash of school Chicken Pox cases spurred the county health department to offer free vaccinations at one of the local school sites Thursday.

On Thursday, close to 90 doses of the vaccine were given to students, siblings, staff members and some parents at Tahoe Lake Elementary School in Tahoe City, according to Dr. Mark Starr, director of community health and clinics for Placer County.

In addition, Placer County’s Kings Beach clinic has increased the number of days they give the vaccine in order to address the issue, he said.

Approximately 16 Tahoe-Truckee elementary students and one middle schooler have been diagnosed with chicken pox since March 28, Starr said.

Calling the outbreak a “cluster,” he said the size of the sickness’s spread is moderate. Although chicken pox is a modest-risk disease, the situation is being monitored closely by school and county health officials, he said.

Tahoe Truckee Unified School District has notified parents through phone messages, letters and an online update on its Web site.

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According to the district’s letter to parents and employees, the state requires one varicella, or chicken pox, vaccination but recommends two. Most of the students diagnosed received one vaccine, the letter said.

Symptoms include a slight to high fever and red spots that grow into blisters, Starr said.

The letter recommends parents waiting a week after skin eruptions first appear before allowing them back to school. Symptoms may appear 14 to 21 days after exposure.

The vaccination could prevent the disease even after exposure or reduce the duration, Starr said.

The disease can be dangerous for very young infants, pregnant women and people that have a suppressed immune systems, Starr said.

“We know it is in the community,” he said. “We want everyone to check their history and make sure they have been immunized,” Starr said.

If someone has had chicken pox, they are immune, he said. Although, he explained, that person could still develop shingles later in life.

Starr said no cases have been reported in Truckee.

“-Andrew Cristancho, Sierra Sun