Physicians at the University of Houston (UH) Health Center have recently diagnosed four UH students with chickenpox, or varicella-zoster virus. The cases were diagnosed between Jan. 15 and Jan. 30. None of the infected students reside on campus, and the cases do not appear to be connected. However, Health Center officials want the campus community to be aware of the signs, symptoms and precautions that can be taken to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“We want the campus community to be aware of these cases,” said Floyd Robinson, assistant vice president for student affairs - health and wellness and Health Center director. “Many people assume that if they were vaccinated as a child, they don’t need the booster. Talk with your healthcare provider to determine if a second dose is recommended.”
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to prevent chickenpox is to get the chickenpox vaccine. The vaccine is recommended for people 13 years of age and older who have never had chickenpox or received chickenpox vaccine. The vaccine is available at the UH Health Center for $113 per dose. The CDC recommends two doses of chickenpox vaccine, at least 28 days apart. Two doses of the vaccine are about 98 percent effective at preventing chickenpox. For those at risk, getting the vaccine if recently exposed to the virus will not prevent the disease, but may minimize the severity.
Chickenpox is a very contagious disease spread through the air, such as from coughing or sneezing, and by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters. Chickenpox causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness and fever. It can be serious, especially in babies, adults and people with weakened immune systems. Individuals who develop any of these signs or symptoms should consult their healthcare provider.
To find out more information about chickenpox please visit the CDC’s website at http://www.cdc.gov/chickenpox/index.html
For more information about receiving the chickenpox vaccine, please contact the UH Health Center at 713-743-5151.