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Orcas Island struck by chickenpox outbreak
Kaleidoscope Preschool and Childcare Center in Eastsound has had seven cases of possible chickenpox since the first outbreak on Dec. 28. One teacher is also infected.
Shortly after the first incident, 11 children were immunized at the center. Two of those kids, who were thought to have contracted chickenpox, were later deemed to have had a negative reaction to the immunization. Doctors cleared them to return to school.
According to Kaleidoscope director Amber Paulsen, all un-immunized kids have to stay out of the pre-school for 21 days after each new case.
“This isn’t about whether or not you believe in immunization,” Paulsen said. “It’s about how much time you can miss from work (by not having childcare).”
Chickenpox is a common illness that causes an itchy rash and red spots or blisters (pox) all over the body. It is most common in children, but most people will get chickenpox at some point in their lives if they have not had the vaccine.
The disease can spread easily. You can get it from an infected person who sneezes, coughs or shares food or drinks. You can also get it if you touch the fluid from a chickenpox blister.
Paulsen’s son Jaxon was the first reported case on Dec. 28. Ten days prior, he had received the immunization shot.
“His case would have been a lot worse if he didn’t have that shot,” Paulsen said. “He probably has 200 pox on him.”
To reach Paulsen, call 360-599-2835. For more information about Chickenpox, call the San Juan County Health Department at 378-4474.
— Islands' Sounder staff