(Riley County, KS - May 12, 2022) The Riley County Health Department (RCHD) has identified six cases of Chickenpox (Varicella) in Riley County over the past two weeks. The six patients range in age from 6 to 14 years of age. Chickenpox was last seen in Riley County in 2020, when a single case was identified in a 16-year-old person returning from international travel.
Chickenpox is a disease that causes an itchy rash of blisters and a fever. It is highly contagious and spreads mainly when a person touches or breathes in the virus particles. Anyone who has not had the chickenpox or received the varicella vaccine can get the disease. Some individuals who have been vaccinated against chickenpox can still get the disease. However, they usually have milder symptoms. Chickenpox illness usually lasts about 4 to 7 days.
Be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of chickenpox, including:
- A rash that turns into itchy, fluid-filled blisters
- Loss of appetite
Chickenpox is usually mild in children, but the itching can be very uncomfortable. Children who get chickenpox will miss about a week of school or child care. In some cases, chickenpox can cause serious problems, such as:
- Skin infections
- Dehydration (loss of body fluids)
- Pneumonia (an infection in the lungs)
- Encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
The Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccine is a required school immunization from KDHE. See the full list of vaccine requirements at: https://www.kdhe.ks.gov/DocumentCenter/View/21272/2022-2023-School-Requirement-K-12-PDF
“If children are behind in getting their required school immunizations, the summer would be a great time to schedule those appointments and get caught up,” said Local Health Officer Julie Gibbs.
Varicella (Chickenpox) vaccines and all required school vaccines are available at the Riley County Health Department (RCHD) and most doctors offices. Children and adults can get vaccines at RCHD, located at 2030 Tecumseh Road on a walk-in basis. No appointment is needed, but appointments are also available by calling (785) 776-4779 to schedule an appointment. The clinic is open:
- Mon-Wed: 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Thurs: noon – 6 p.m.
- Fri: 8:30 - 11 a.m.
Additional Info about Chickenpox from CDC:
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It can cause an itchy, blister-like rash. The rash first appears on the chest, back, and face, and then spreads over the entire body, causing between 250 and 500 itchy blisters. Chickenpox can be serious, especially in babies, adolescents, adults, pregnant women, and people with bodies that have a lowered ability to fight germs and sickness (weakened immune system). The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine.
Chickenpox used to be very common in the United States. In the early 1990s, an average of 4 million people got chickenpox, 10,500 to 13,000 were hospitalized, and 100 to 150 died each year.
Chickenpox vaccine became available in the United States in 1995. Each year, more than 3.5 million cases of chickenpox, 9,000 hospitalizations, and 100 deaths are prevented by chickenpox vaccination in the United States. Some people who have been vaccinated against chickenpox can still get the disease. However, they usually have milder symptoms with fewer or no blisters (or just red spots), a mild or no fever, and are sick for a shorter period of time than people who are not vaccinated. But some vaccinated people who get chickenpox may have disease similar to unvaccinated people.
Find more information about Riley County Health Department at www.rileycountyks.gov/health. Follow Riley County Health Department on Facebook Rileycountyhealthdepartment, Twitter @RileyCoHealth Instagram @rileycountyhd.