News Flash

Summit County Government

Posted on: November 16, 2021

Public Health Investigates Varicella Cluster

SC Public Health 3c

Ten cases of Varicella Reported in Summit County

Contact: Adam Kisiel, Public Affairs Coordinator, Summit County Government

SUMMIT COUNTY – Summit County Public Health has identified a cluster of varicella cases. Varicella, or more commonly, “chickenpox”, is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV) that is spread from person-to-person by coughing and sneezing, or by touching the fluid from a varicella lesion. Ten cases have been reported to public health since August. The majority of the cases are among children who attend school in Summit County and who have not received the varicella vaccine. The varicella vaccine is routinely given in two doses, with the first dose at age 12 to 15 months and the second dose at age 4 to 6 years. To attend school in Colorado, students must have received two doses of the varicella vaccine or have a signed exemption form on file with their school. 

Symptoms of varicella include an itchy, blister-like rash; fever; tiredness; and loss of appetite. Varicella is usually not serious, but it may cause severe illness in some people such as infants; pregnant people, who never had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine; people with weakened immune systems; and people with chronic skin or lung conditions.  

Summit School District (SSD) sent notifications to parents of students who may have been exposed at Summit Middle School (SMS) and Dillon Valley Elementary School (DVE). Parents of unvaccinated children who may have been exposed to varicella have been contacted by phone by SSD and Summit County Public Health (SCPH). SCPH and school-based health centers have provided varicella vaccines to several children to reduce the spread of the virus. While varicella can occur in people who have been vaccinated and who have had varicella in the past, vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of disease.  

"We are sorry to report these cases among these young members of our school district," Summit County Public Health Nurse Manager Lauren Gilbert said. "We are working closely with Summit School District to ensure students receive the appropriate care and to minimize further spread of the disease. This is a reminder that we have other preventable communicable diseases that can circulate in our community”  

SCPH expects that the high varicella vaccination rates in Summit County will help the disease from spreading further. According to 2021 data, which is publicly available on the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s website: https://cdphe.colorado.gov/school-and-child-care-immunization-data

•          In Dillon Valley Elementary, 88.33% of kindergartens and 90.61% of all students have been fully vaccinated against varicella 

•          In Summit Middle School, 95.13% of all students have been fully vaccinated.   

This investigation is ongoing and SSD will continue to follow up with parents/guardians if additional cases occur. Anyone who is not yet vaccinated against varicella should call their health care provider or pharmacy. Children that are uninsured or have Medicaid as well as adults that are uninsured can get the vaccine from Summit County Public Health. There is a $15 administration fee, but that can be waived for those who want the vaccine but cannot afford the fee. 

More information about Chickenpox can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/about/index.html

 

 

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