USD 345 Officials Confirm Cases Of Chicken Pox

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FROM USD 435: This press release is to inform you that there have been six suspected or confirmed cases of the chicken pox in the Seaman School District, USD #345. The cases have occurred at Seaman Middle School (5620 NW Topeka Blvd), Seaman High School (4850 NW Rochester Rd), and Elmont Elementary School (6432 NW Elmont Rd).

In these cases, three of the infected children had been vaccinated against the disease, and two had previously contracted chicken pox when they were younger. One of the six cases involves a student who was not vaccinated.

The chicken pox vaccine is highly effective, with a 90% effectiveness rate, however, in 10% of the vaccinated population, infections can occur. A previous history of the disease also typically results in immunity, but not always.

"All of our district faculty and staff have been alerted and made aware of how to identify a suspected case," said Communications Director Jeff Zehnder. "Unfortunately, like some other diseases, children become contagious before they develop the main symptom: the tell-tale itchy skin rash."

Every school in the Seaman district has a full-time nurse who can help identify a suspected infection, but a final determination must be made by a doctor. All six cases have been reported to the Shawnee County Health Agency for investigation.

In most cases, being infected is not serious.

"Chicken pox is usually a mild disease, but has the potential to cause severe complications in certain high-risk individuals, including immunocompromised children, susceptible pregnant females, and premature infants of less than 28 weeks," said Seaman Health Services Director Mrs. Chris Tuck, RN.

Chicken pox spreads through the air via sneezing or coughing or through contact with an infected person's sores. Symptoms of chickenpox usually appear 14-16 days after exposure to someone with chickenpox. In children, the virus usually lasts 5 to 10 days and causes fever, tiredness, and an itchy skin rash. The skin rash begins with small red bumps on the trunk and face and can spread to the entire body. The rash changes into pustules (blisters) and finally forms scabs. A person is most contagious 1-2 days prior to developing the rash and until the blisters have dried into scabs. Children may return to school after the last pustule has scabbed over, which is about 6 to 7 days after the rash appears.