11:11 AM: New information today about cases of chickenpox reported at Arbor Heights Elementary School. Letters sent to families at AHES and at co-housed Louisa Boren K-8 STEM said five cases had been verified at AHES, but today Seattle Public Schools tells WSB the number is actually four.
The letter sent to families said that the cases appear to have stemmed from exposure “around February 11th” and notes that, “Chickenpox is usually not a serious illness, but it can be severe when complicated by bacterial skin infections and is especially acute for children and adults with compromised immune systems (for example, from cancer chemotherapy, high-dose steroid therapy for asthma or HIV). Adolescents, adults, the elderly, and pregnant women are more at risk for complications from chicken pox.” The district says the four cases include one vaccinated child and three unvaccinated children; 90 percent of AHES students are vaccinated, according to the letter from principal Christy Collins.
The letter advises:
Children 12 months of age and older, adolescents, and adults who have not had chicken pox disease and have not received chicken pox vaccine should contact their health care provider to get immunized as soon as possible. Those with compromised immune systems should talk to their healthcare provider to discuss the best ways to protect themselves from chicken pox.
The King County Public Health website shares this general information about the disease. We asked KCPH spokesperson James Apa for any information available about current trends; he says that individual cases are “not reportable” so they don’t have trend information. He does say the last chickenpox-related death in the county was in 2011.
ADDED 2:42 PM: More from Apa at KCPH: Four cases is considered a “cluster”; while he cautions that his agency might not always hear about clusters, they have heard about one other so far this year – a preschool – and also, three other reports of 1 or 2 cases of chickenpox in schools or daycares around King County.