Submitted by San Juan County
Eleven cases of Varicella, or chickenpox, have been confirmed in the Orcas Island community. None of the cases have required hospitalization and at least two of the cases were in children attending schools on Orcas Island. San Juan County Health and Community Services has alerted medical providers and is working closely 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, stay home and away from other people and public settings until you have been evaluated by your health care provider. 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.
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, 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 at San Juan County Health and Community Services at sanjuanco.com/420/Immunizations.