Epidemic Hazard – North-America – USA

EDIS Number: EH-20120413-34877-USA
Date / time: 13/04/2012 02:55:38 [UTC]
Event: Epidemic Hazard
Area: North-America
Country: USA
State/County: State of Florida
Location: [Alachua County]
Number of Deads: N/A
Number of Injured: N/A
Number of Infected: 70 person(s)
Number of Missing: N/A
Number of Affected: N/A
Number of Evacuated: N/A
Damage level: N/A


Five new chickenpox cases were discovered in Alachua County Thursday -- including the first case outside of the county’s northwest corner -- bringing the total number of cases to 70. Chickenpox, also known as varicella, traditionally breaks out sporadically in the spring, health officials say. But this year’s plenitude and concentration of cases in the northwest part of the county have prompted health officials to exclude unvaccinated students from school in an effort to stop the virus’ spread. “This is a significant outbreak,” said Health Department Director Paul Myers. The progress of this is being closely watched because Alachua County has a low rate of children entering kindergarten with a full set of the required vaccines. That means more than the average number of students receive exemptions for religious or medical reasons to go to school without all their vaccines. With a virus on the loose, the Health Department is reviewing who is vaccinated and who is not, and limiting the attendance of those who were not. April 25 -- 21 days after the last known documented infection -- is still the date when unvaccinated students can return to schools in High Springs and Alachua. But Myers wasn’t ready to say Thursday the worst of the outbreak is over. “I think there is still a potential for more cases to emerge,” he said. “As that happens we will continue to evaluate our position.” The private school at which the virus first broke out en masse is on the grounds of the Alachua Hare Krishna Temple, health officials said. Then Alachua Learning Center, a charter school, was the first to have unvaccinated students barred from school starting Monday. On Wednesday, the quarantine expanded, with unvaccinated students excluded from Alachua and Irby elementary schools, High Springs Community School, Mebane Middle School and Santa Fe High School.

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