Chickenpox outbreak in Florida

According to Vaccine News Daily, Chickenpox spreads to five Fla. public schools, the chickenpox (Varicella zoster) outbreak in Florida is increasing in size:

Health officials in Florida added 25 students who are not vaccinated against chickenpox to a list of those barred from attending class in five public schools in High Springs and Alachua on Wednesday.

There have been 65 cases of chickenpox reported in the northwest part of Alachua County, prompting the health department to prohibit unvaccinated students from attending the Alachua Learning Center.

Per an article in Gainsville.com, 65 at an Alachua County charter school come down with chickenpox, the county “has been flagged at the state level for its low rate of children entering school with a full set of vaccinations.”  As in most states, unvaccinated children may attend public school if parents obtain a medical or religious exemption.  According to the same article,  Alachua County’s Interim County Health Director Paul Myers said “the outbreak at the school in Alachua required him to take steps over spring break to bar all unvaccinated children who had not yet contracted the illness to confine the reach of the chickenpox outbreak.”

Just in case anyone thinks that chickenpox is some low risk infection with no side effects, let’s review the prognosis for the infection:

  1. In pregnant women, the virus passes through the blood-placenta barrier and can cause significant problems to the developing fetus, including brain damage, blindness, skin disorders, and, well the list is quite long.  The risk is highest during the first 28 weeks of gestations, which means about ¾ of a normal length pregnancy.  The risk is also significant if the mother gets chickenpox immediately before birth.  
  2. In adults, chickenpox can be fatal.  For some reason, unvaccinated adults are more susceptible to dangerous side effects than children.
  3. Shingles (or Herpes zoster) is the latent form of chickenpox, and only arises in patients who have actually been infected by chickenpox as a child.  It essentially hides in the nerve roots until it reappears many years later (as a result of many factors, including stress).  Shingles is particularly dangerous, with significant and not infrequent side effects such as severe pain, scarring, blindness and other issues.

There is just no excuse for not vaccinating everyone for chickenpox.  In fact, adults who have had chickenpox should also be vaccinated so that the latent zoster doesn’t blossom into shingles.  

I guess the anti-vaccine lunacy has stuck their disgusting claws into the children of Florida.  Good job.

The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!