2 cases of chickenpox reported at University of North Florida

Campus officials say student living on campus, off campus report having chickenpox

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The University of North Florida Student Health Services has reported two cases of chickenpox on campus this week.

Officials said one student lives on campus in Building 55, Osprey Fountains, and the other student lives off campus.

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. According to health officials, the virus spreads easily from people with chickenpox to others who have never had the disease or received the chickenpox vaccine.

The virus spreads in the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Officials said it can also be spread by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters.

A person with chickenpox can spread the disease from one to two days before they get the rash until all their chickenpox blisters have formed scabs. Authorities said it takes from 10 to 21 days after exposure to a person with chickenpox or shingles for someone to develop chickenpox.

If a person vaccinated for chickenpox gets the disease, they can still spread it to others. Health officials said for most people getting chickenpox once provides immunity for life. However, for a few people, they can get chickenpox more than once, although this is not common.

The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. Children, adolescents and adults should have two doses of chickenpox vaccine. Health officials said the chickenpox vaccine is very safe and effective at preventing the disease.

Most people who get the vaccine won't get chickenpox. Officials said if a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it's usually mild -- with fewer blisters and mild or no fever. The chickenpox vaccine prevents almost all cases of severe disease.

For people exposed to chickenpox, campus health officials said to call a health care provider if the person:

  • has never had chickenpox disease and is not vaccinated with the chickenpox vaccine.
  • has a weakened immune system caused by disease or medication; for example,
    People with HIV/AIDS or cancer
    Patients who have had transplants, and
    People on chemotherapy, immunosuppressive medications, or long-term use of steroids.
  • is pregnant.

If you suspect you have the chicken pox, the campus says to call Student Health Services at 904-620-2900. Students with chickenpox need to be isolated and seen by a health care professional, authorities said.

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