UNC issues health alert over chicken pox

February 15, 2013 7:57:23 PM PST
The University of North Carolina is issuing a warning to students about the spread of chicken pox after a case was reported on campus.

"I was shocked to hear that there was a case of chicken pox," said UNC student Michael Kayemba.

"Kind of surprised just given the fact that the median age is 18-years-old," said UNC student Lauren Freedman.

UNC health officials say when a case happens they isolate the student. In some instances they send them home, usually for about a week.

"I think that's a good idea to send them off-campus to prevent the spread," said UNC student Keith Chappelle. "Giving them like five days or something like that. It's a smart decision."

The university says it also checks the status of the infected student's closest contacts, and as an added measure notifies classmates one their own is sick.

UNC health officials say as many as 10 percent of adults are susceptible to the itchy illness marked by blisters and a fever despite the fact that it is a childhood disease.

"I was very young. I was probably five," said Kayemba. "So, I'm not going to get it at all again."

Most won't catch it more than once. However, in some cases, people contract the same virus in the form of shingles. Most commonly, it happens in people in at least 60 years old.

Students here say they aren't worried.

"I don't feel very concerned about it," said Freedman.

"It's in the back of my head, not too big of a concern," said Chappelle.

UNC currently strongly recommends that students get the chicken pox vaccine. In the next few years, the school will make it mandatory for incoming freshmen.

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