FORT MYERS, Fla. – Since February, 41 cases of chickenpox have been confirmed in children from all parts of Lee County.
The disease is not isolated to any school or section of the county and is presenting in children of all ages who attend public and private schools, as well as daycare facilities.
Also, the majority of the children confirmed with the disease have had at least one dose of the chickenpox vaccine. Even if your child has had one dose of chickenpox vaccine, it is possible to still acquire the disease.
“All children who have celebrated their third birthday should receive two doses of chickenpox vaccine in order to add protection from getting the disease. For children in second grade and higher they may have received only one dose of chicken pox vaccine when they entered school, so get the second dose for your child if you have not already done so,” said Judith A. Hartner, M.D., M.P.H., M.P.A., Director of the Lee County Health Department.
Chicken pox is a highly contagious disease that is easily transmitted in classroom settings. It has an incubation period of anywhere from 10 to 21 days after contact but the most contagious period is from 1 to 2 days before the rash appears until right after it appears.
An infected person no longer spreads the virus when all the blisters have scabs and no new blisters are forming. Children should not return to school until all blisters have scabbed.
If you notice small red bumps on your child that resemble bug bites or a rash, accompanied by itching, fever and tiredness please keep your child home from school and contact your medical provider for further evaluation.
Signs and symptoms to look for in your child would be:
- Rash (i.e. small, red bumps blistering over 3-4 days, then forming scabs)
- Blister crops will erupt over several days, so the person who has chickenpox for more than a day or so will have some red bumps, blisters, and scabbed-over blisters all at the same time.
- Rash is more noticeable on the trunk than exposed parts of the body.
- Rash may appear inside mouth, ears, genital areas, and scalp.
- Fever, runny rose, cough.
The first or second dose of chickenpox vaccine may be received free to all children aged 12 months through 18 years at the following Lee County Health Department locations.
Daytime vaccinations will be given at the following locations:
Fort Myers - 3920 Michigan Ave
Monday to Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Friday from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Evening vaccinations will be given at the following locations:
North Fort Myers - 83 Pondella Road
Thursday, May 13 and Wednesday, May 19 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Bonita Springs - 9751 Bonita Beach Road (First Presbyterian Church)
Tuesday, June 1 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Lehigh - 5624 8th Street West, Suite 106
Thursday, June 3 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Parents are requested to please bring their immunization records if coming to a health department location.
For more information about chickenpox please visit the Center for Disease Control Website or call the Lee County Health Department at (239) 332-9601.