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Campus Life

Stockton Campus Health Advisory

Sep 25, 2012

A University of the Pacific student was recently diagnosed with chickenpox (varicella) and may have exposed other members of the Stockton campus community to the illness. It is believed that the risk to the campus community is low because the student had very few interactions with other campus community members during the period of time that the student would have been contagious.

Because of the brief exposure to classmates and faculty members, the University is taking steps to further reduce the risk by directly contacting anyone on campus who may have been in contact with the student. The infected student is now recovering under quarantine at home. No other cases have been discovered to date.

Chickenpox is a contagious viral infection that is spread by airborne droplets via coughing or sneezing by an infected person or by touching or breathing the vesicular fluid that comes from the chickenpox blisters. Symptoms typically develop 10 to 21 days after exposure to the virus.  A person with chickenpox may have 1 to 2 days of fever and malaise prior to a rash outbreak. The rash usually starts as red spots and then progresses rapidly to itchy fluid-filled blisters that eventually turn into scabs.  The rash usually appears first on the face, chest and back and then spreads to the rest of the body. It usually takes one week to scab over. Individuals with chickenpox are most infectious from 1 to 2 days before the onset of the rash through the first 4 to 5 days or until the blisters have formed crusts.

For more information about chickenpox, visit the Centers for Disease Control page at http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/index.html.

The best prevention is to make sure your immunizations are up-to-date and complete. Most people who have had two doses of the Varicella vaccine or have had the infection will be protected against chickenpox. Only 1% of individuals who were properly vaccinated may still be susceptible to chickenpox. Individuals who have had the chickenpox usually develop immunity but it is possible to get the infection more than one time. The varicella vaccine has been found to be 70% to 100% effective in preventing illness or modifying the severity of the illness, if given within 3 days, and possibly up to 5 days post exposure. The varicella vaccine is not appropriate for pregnant women, individuals who have had a previous severe allergic reaction to any of the vaccine components or following a prior dose, recently received some blood product or have a weakened immune system. Students unsure of their vaccine status can go to MyHealth@Pacific at https://healthservices.pacific.edu/login_directory.aspx.

If you suspect you have chickenpox, immediately limit your contact with other people and do not attend class, work or social functions. Be sure to cover your mouth and nose when coughing and clean your hands often with soap and water. Contact Pacific Health Services at 209.946.2315 ext. 1 to determine if chickenpox testing is warranted or if you have questions or concerns about this incident and how it might affect you.