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Chickenpox outbreak at Nevada County schools

At outbreak of chickenpox among western Nevada County school children has health officials asking parents to keep infected children home – and to get them vaccinated.

“The vast majority of these students were not vaccinated,” Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency officials said Monday.

Many Nevada County residents do not vaccinate their children for personal reasons or fears the vaccines may cause other ills.



The schools where cases have shown up are Yuba River Charter School on Bitney Springs Road and Alta Sierra Elementary School, said Cindy Watson of the county Public Health Department.

“We have 21 at Yuba River and two at Alta Sierra,” the department’s communicable disease coordinator said late Monday afternoon.




In December 2006, Yuba Charter sent half of its then-250 students home during a whooping cough outbreak. Many of those children also were not immunized for the disease, and many parents did not realize their children had not received the five shots needed.

The two schools with the chickenpox cases have sent letters to parents and guardians notifying them of the outbreak, county officials said.

Diagnosed children and their siblings were sent home until they recover, Watson said.

They will not be allowed to return until their blisters have crusted over or until five days have passed.

“The disease starts with a mild fever and general feeling of tiredness, quickly followed by a blistering rash that spreads across the body,” according to the Health Department. The virus can be transmitted by touch, coughing and sneezing, officials said.

Most people get a mild illness from chickenpox, but it can cause skin infections, pneumonia and inflammation of the brain, according to the Health Department.

Aspirin should not be given to anyone suspected of having the disease because it could cause Reye’s syndrome, a serious child malady that can damage the liver.

Chickenpox vaccine is safe and works for children 12 months and older, according to the Health Department. The department gives the vaccine twice to children, the first when they are between 12 and 15 months and again when they are between 4 and 6 years old.

For more information, call the Health Department at (530) 265-1420.

LOW-COST VACCINATIONS:

Chickenpox vaccinations are available from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. every Thursday, administered by staff from the Nevada County Health Department out of the department’s mobile clinic – a van parked behind the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building, 255 S. Auburn St.


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