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Chicken Pox Quarantine Challenged In Court


The chicken pox outbreak at the Asheville Waldorf School has triggered a legal challenge.

Earlier this month, Buncombe county health officials issued a 21-day quarantine to students who couldn’t prove immunity to the virus.    Nearly 75 percent of the student population had not received the chicken pox vaccine.  The quarantine was challenged by an attorney representing two students. Last week, a judge upheld the school restriction, but struck down the portion that prevented students from leaving their home. The quarantine order expired Tuesday.  Thirty six cases have been diagnosed at the private school since the end of October. It’s the largest outbreak in the state since the chicken pox vaccine was approved in 1995.   Buncombe County Medical Director, Dr. Jennifer Mullendore, says the private school had the highest vaccine religious exemption rate in the county last year.   You can read more about the outbreak along with a response from the school here. 

Buncombe County has North Carolina’s highest rate of kindergartners who have not been immunized, with 5.7 percent of students claiming a religious exemption, compared to 1.2 percent in the rest of the state.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chickenpox is a very contagious disease that causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness, and fever.  The rash appears first on the stomach, back and face and can spread over the entire body causing between 250 and 500 itchy blisters. 

The CDC says the best way to prevent it is vaccination.

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.
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