Chickenpox case at Ballina school sparks warning

BALLINA Coast High School has issued a request for parents to keep any student with chickenpox symptoms at home.

On the school's Facebook page, a post implored parents to be aware of the symptoms and take their child to a doctor if needed.

"We have received notification that a student of BCHS has been diagnosed with chicken pox," the post said.

"As chicken pox is contagious, we urge you to keep your child home from school and seek medical advice if symptoms arise. Symptoms can include mild fever, runny nose, fatigue and a general rash."

Ballina Coast High School relieving principal Greg Armstrong said keeping in touch with the community on such matters was important.

"Only one student has come out in spots," he said.

"We decided to let out school community know what is going on."

Vaccination rates across the Northern Rivers are still lower than health authorities advise.

According to New South Wales Health, chickenpox (varicella) is a viral illness caused by the herpes zoster virus (also known as the Varicella-Zoster virus).

In children it usually causes a relatively mild illness, but chickenpox in adults and immunosuppressed people can be severe.

A free varicella containing vaccine (MMRV) was now recommended for all children at 18 months of age.

Students in their first year of high school who have not previously received varicella vaccine and who have not had chickenpox are offered a varicella vaccine.

Varicella vaccine is recommended for all non-immune adolescents (>14 years ) and adults.

This involves two doses at least one month apart.

Immunisation was especially recommended for people at high risk, for example, health care workers, people living with or working with small children, women planning a pregnancy, and household contact of persons who are immunosuppressed.

Infection in pregnancy can cause foetal malformations, skin scarring, and other problems in the baby.

Before routine vaccination began in November 2005, chickenpox was a very common illness and the incidence of chickenpox appears to have decreased as more people receive the vaccine.