Southington school alerts parents that children may have been ex - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Southington school alerts parents that children may have been exposed to shingles

Posted: Updated:
(WFSB file photo) (WFSB file photo)

School officials in Southington sent a note home to parents warning them that their children may be at risk for shingles.

They said someone in the Kennedy Middle School contracted the virus.

They warned parents of students with immune systems that are impaired by medical conditions or treatments contact their children's physicians to ask about precautions.

They said if a child has not had chickenpox or has not been vaccinated, parents should also call the child's regular healthcare provider to talk about the possible use of the varicella vaccine.

Dr. Ulysses Wu, who is a chief of infectious diseases at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, said chickenpox and shingles are caused by the same virus. Wu talked about shingles as it usually affects older adults.

"It lives in your neurological system for common terms and what happens as you get older, usually happens in older people, but can happen in younger people," Wu said. "Our immunity or cell immunity decreases." 

That causes the virus to become active and possibly cause shingles.  The painful red rash can spread all over the body or in certain areas.  

Under Connecticut state statute, the chickenpox vaccine is one of the handful of vaccinations required for school-age children.  Most students are vaccinated. 

“Everyone will be different as their differences in age, immunity status that will determine whether you were susceptible to this and like I said before, if you were vaccinated, your still at risk," Wu said. "But, your risk is decreased greatly, but it's not 100%." 

The letter also contained information from the Connecticut Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The DPH said a person is deemed exposed in a school outbreak if they have spent at least four hours in the vicinity of an infected person.

A fact sheet about the virus can be found on the DPH's website here.

Information from the CDC can be found here

Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.