A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Outbreak at Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy appears to be chickenpox; precautions taken

Students at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy in Walton are experiencing an outbreak of an illness characterized by a blister-like rash presumed to be chickenpox (varicella). There are currently 32 cases at the school.

Chickenpox is a vaccine-preventable illness with a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness and fever that can last 5-7 days.

Chickenpox can be a very serious illness. Chickenpox spreads easily, mainly when a person touches or breathes in the virus that comes from chickenpox blisters. It can also spread through tiny droplets that get into the air when someone who has chickenpox breathes or talks, for example.

Photo courtesy CDC

Chickenpox is especially dangerous for infants and anyone who is pregnant or has a weakened immune system. Complications from chickenpox can include secondary infections such as bacterial skin infections, pneumonia, encephalitis, Reye’s syndrome, sepsis, and even death.

“Although we have been working with the school to contain the illnesses since February,” stated Dr. Lynne Saddler, District Director of Health at the Northern Kentucky Health Department, “the Health Department has recently seen a concerning increase in the number of infected students at the school which has prompted us to take further control measures at the school and to make the public aware that chickenpox may be in the community.”

As a result of the continued increase in cases and to prevent further spread of this illness, the Northern Kentucky Health Department has instructed that all students without proof of vaccination or proof of immunity against chickenpox will not be allowed to attend school until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last ill student or staff member. 

In addition, all school events and extracurricular activities involving other schools or the public will continue to be canceled until 21 days after the onset of rash for the last ill student or staff member. These events would include any instances where students from Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy are going into other schools/public areas, or the public/other schools are coming to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart/Assumption Academy. Events include but are not limited to sporting events (including both home and away games), fairs, festivals, music events, etc.

Parents of students have also been notified to monitor their children for symptoms for the duration of the outbreak and to minimize contact with others in the community, especially avoiding infants, pregnant women, and individuals known to be immunocompromised.
The chickenpox vaccine is the best way to prevent becoming ill and spreading the varicella virus. It is very safe and prevents almost all cases of severe illness. Ensure all members of your household are up-to-date on all vaccinations. Contact your health care provider or the Health Department with any questions about where to get the vaccine.

Northern Kentucky Health Department

Related Posts

Leave a Comment