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May 16, 2017

From the Middlesex-London Health Unit:

Dear staff and students:

A staff member at Fanshawe College is suspected to have contracted chickenpox. We want to advise you that children and adults who have not had chickenpox, or those who have not been adequately vaccinated, or individuals whose immune systems are severely compromised, could become ill.


Chickenpox is an illness caused by a virus and is most common in young children however older children and adults can also become ill. Chickenpox is spread easily through the air or by direct contact with infected individuals. Early symptoms may include fever, fatigue and loss of appetite, followed within a few days by an itchy rash with blisters on the face, scalp and trunk that can range in number from a few to several hundred, which then form sores. Although rare, complications of chickenpox can include skin infections, swelling of the brain, and pneumonia. Those infected with chickenpox can spread the disease several days before the rash appears up until 5 days after the onset of the rash.


Students and staff members should stay home until they feel well enough to resume attending school and other activities. This is because most of the spread occurs during the first few days of the disease onset.


People with severely compromised immune systems are at risk of developing serious complications and should avoid potential exposure to chickenpox. Individuals with compromised immune systems who are exposed to the virus, should consult their healthcare provider as soon as possible. The healthcare provider may recommend an injection of varicella immune globulin to prevent or minimize severe infection.


Chickenpox infection can also be a serious concern for pregnant women who have no immunity to the virus. If a pregnant woman becomes infected with chickenpox during the first half of pregnancy, the virus can affect the developing fetus, which may result in birth defects. Chickenpox infection around the time of delivery can result in severe complications, and potentially, the death of a newborn baby. Pregnant women who have not had chickenpox in the past or have not received the chickenpox vaccine should consult their healthcare provider. The healthcare provider may recommend an injection of varicella immune globulin to prevent or minimize severe infection.


Any child, adolescent or adult who is not immune to chickenpox should consider receiving the chickenpox vaccine, which is available at the Middlesex-London Health Unit's Immunization Clinic, or your healthcare provider's office. Please note that receiving the vaccine shortly after being exposed to chickenpox is highly effective in preventing illness and minimizing complications. If you are uncertain whether you have received the chickenpox vaccine, please contact your healthcare provider or the Health Unit.


If you have questions about chickenpox, please contact the Health Unit at 519-663-5317, extension 2330, email, or visit the Health Unit's chickenpox webpage at:




Vaccine Preventable Disease Team