Submitted by San Juan County
Six cases of Varicella, or “chicken pox,” have now been confirmed in the Orcas Island community. San Juan County Health & Community Services is working closely with medical providers to identify additional cases in the community. We are also continuing work with the Orcas School District, preschools and families to investigate the varicella cases. None of the cases have been hospitalized.
Varicella is a highly contagious infection, and symptoms include fever, fatigue and a rash that typically progresses from the head to other parts of the body. Those most vulnerable to complications of varicella are persons older than 15 years of age who have not been vaccinated or had the infection; newborns and infants younger than one year; pregnant women; and people with compromised immune systems. Complications may include severe symptoms, prolonged illness, hospitalization and death. During pregnancy, varicella pneumonia can be particularly severe and maternal infection can lead to congenital abnormalities.
The best way to protect against varicella is to receive a vaccine according to current vaccination guidelines. If you or your child has symptoms of varicella, please stay home and away from other people and public settings until you have been evaluated by your health care provider. Please call your health care provider before going to their office, as they may want to see you outside of a setting where others can be exposed.
When an outbreak occurs in a school, daycare, or camp setting, those that are not vaccinated will be excluded for 21 days after the last case is identified according to CDC guidelines to help control the outbreak.
Now is a good time for individuals and family members to review vaccination records and ensure immunizations are up to date. If vaccinations are not up to date, or you have questions about vaccinations or varicella, please contact your health care provider or San Juan County Health and Community Services at 360-378-4474.
Additional information and resources on varicella may be found on the San Juan County Health and Community Services website.