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Chickenpox outbreak reported at Carlsbad school

CARLSBAD — Five kindergartners and one adult at Aviara Oaks Elementary School in the Carlsbad Unified School District have been diagnosed with chickenpox (varicella), according to San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) officials. 

The children diagnosed include two 5 year olds and three 6 year olds. One child received the two recommended doses of the varicella vaccine, but the other five individuals were not immunized.

The school notified students and staff about the outbreak as well as those at neighboring Aviara Oaks Middle School because the schools are located on the same campus and share some facilities.

“Chickenpox is a preventable disease,” said Eric McDonald, M.D., M.P.H., county deputy public health officer. “By having their children immunized with the recommended two doses of the vaccine, parents can help their children avoid chickenpox and prevent it from spreading to others.”

There have been eight cases of chickenpox reported in San Diego County so far in 2013. Chickenpox is not reportable to the County Public Health Department unless it occurs in an outbreak or results in a hospitalization or death.

Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella virus. The disease is easily spread by coughing, sneezing or being in contact with chickenpox blisters. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine. Children should be vaccinated at 12-15 months of age and receive the second dose at 4 to 6 years of age.

Symptoms of chickenpox include a skin rash of blister-like lesions, covering the body but usually more concentrated on the face, scalp, and trunk. The risk of complications increases after puberty and includes bacterial infection of skin lesions, dehydration and pneumonia.

Most, but not all, infected individuals have fever, which develops just before or when the rash appears. If exposed, persons who have been vaccinated against the disease may get a milder illness, with less severe rash and mild or no fever. The incubation period is generally from 14 to 16 days from exposure, with a range of 10 to 21 days. The illness lasts about 5 to 10 days. For more information on chickenpox and immunizations in general, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358-2966 or visit the website at