BLOUNT COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE: The Alabama Department of Public Health is reporting additional cases of the rash seen on children earlier this week that’s comparable to chickenpox.
Specimens have been sent to the lab for testing and ADPH is expecting results mid to late next week.
ORIGINAL: The Blount County Health Department is investigating several potential cases of chickenpox in elementary school students at Hayden Primary School.
Since May 4, about 30 students in kindergarten, first and second grade have had a rash that closely resembles chickenpox. There have not been any reported severe complications from this rash illness.
Principal Kim Harbison of Hayden Primary School told us the school is waiting to hear back from student’s doctors about this rash.
She said the school is asking parents of those students with a rash to have them checked out by their pediatrician and report back if it’s actually chickenpox.
They’ve seen a spike in the last week of kids with rashes.
Harbison tells me they sent 16 kids home on Monday alone. She said they are sticking to protocol.
If a student comes to school and is complaining of an itch or a rash, they send them straight home.
Parents were notified about the rash through a letter from the Alabama Department of Public Health.
While it is unusual, parents we talked to said this happening at the end of the school year could help stop the rash from spreading further.
“We have one more week of course, the last week of school is really busy so there will be a lot of parents up here at the school with the little activities, but as far as home, yeah, I think parents are going to be able to keep a better eye on their children and their state health,” said Amy Nazarchyk, parent.
Again, those 8 cases of chicken pox are from parents notifying the school. As more kids get checked out by doctors, that number could go up.
Local physicians and health care providers have been notified to be on the lookout for suspect cases of the illness and are asked to report any suspected cases to the health department.
Chickenpox results in fever and headache, followed by an itchy, blistering type rash on the face and trunk that forms scabs over four to seven days. Skin infections, pneumonia and central nervous system symptoms are among complications.
The chickenpox vaccine was developed in 1995 and has been responsible for a decrease in hospitalizations and deaths from chickenpox over the last two decades. One dose of the vaccine protects against chickenpox about 85 percent of the time, and two doses protects about 98 percent of the time. The vaccine became a required vaccine for Alabama school entry in 2001.
“Chickenpox vaccine has been responsible for a significant decline in disease and death during the past 20 years. While some children do develop chickenpox, even when vaccinated, disease after vaccine is very mild,” said Dr. Karen Landers, a pediatrician and Medical Consultant for the Immunization Division of the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Unvaccinated pregnant women, young infants, people with weakened immune systems and unvaccinated adults are at risk for complications. Vaccinated children who have what is called “breakthrough chickenpox” may have less than 50 spots, may not develop blisters are less contagious and are less likely to have severe complications.
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