JEFFERSON COUNTY - The Jefferson County Health Department says there's an outbreak of eight chickenpox cases at Mountain Phoenix School in Wheat Ridge. Six of them are from a first grade classroom.
The health department says before 1995, when the chickenpox vaccine was available, it was common practice to share the disease. Many parents would allow an infected sibling to pass it along to their sister or brother. Health professionals now strongly discourage intentionally passing the disease along because there is an effective vaccine available.
"It's a viral disease that causes a rash like illness all over the body, and you typically have a fever and flu-like symptoms. The incubation period is about 10-15 days after exposure. It's very contagious and can be spread through droplets, sneezing or saliva which is why we encourage getting the vaccination," Kyle Brown, a registered nurse with the Jefferson County Health Department, said.
Health professionals estimate that the vaccine is about 90 to 95 percent effective. Those who have been vaccinated and contract the disease usually experience a mild case.
The Centers for Disease Control says 100 deaths a year are prevented by chickenpox vaccinations. Health professionals say complications from chickenpox include pneumonia and encephalitis, which is why they try to educate parents about the risks so they can make informed decisions about getting their child vaccinated.
The health department says Mountain Phoenix School did everything right by reporting the outbreak to them immediately and notifying parents.
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