The LaGrange County Health Department, along with the Indiana State Department of Health, is investigating a chicken pox outbreak at Shipshewana-Scott Elementary School. LaGrange County Health Officer Dr. Tony Pechin states that there have been five cases documented within the school. The Indiana State Health Department defines an outbreak as five or more cases in a school with individuals less than 13 years of age.
As a result of this outbreak, children who are not vaccinated or who have only received one dose of chicken pox vaccine will not be allowed to attend Shipshewana-Scott Elementary School until the outbreak is over or parents provide documentation that the child has been vaccinated or parents provide documentation of disease from the child’s health care provider. For children who have not been previously vaccinated, a second dose of vaccine is required 28 days after the first dose. In reviewing immunization records at the school, it was found that there are currently 11 students who have only had one dose of vaccine and 28 who have not been immunized. There have been no reported cases involving the other schools within the Westview school district.
Chicken pox, caused by the virus Varicella-Zoster, is highly contagious. It has an incubation period of 10-21 days. While most people experience symptoms in the second week, some don’t until the third week. Initial symptoms include fever, rash, itching and fatigue. Some people can experience more severe complications such as bacterial infections of the skin, meningitis, and pneumonia. It is important that parents who feel their child might have chicken pox call their health care provider and have the child diagnosed as soon as possible. Written documentation from a health care provider is required for an ill child to return to school.