UD reports 5 campus chickenpox cases

Those infected have either isolated themselves or left for Thanksgiving break. University officials advised those students to not return to classes until they no longer have a fever and their blisters are fully scabbed, according to a release sent campuswide Wednesday afternoon.

UD officials said they notified the campus community as a precaution and to help prevent the spread of chickenpox around campus.

The university said it also has notified the health department.

RELATED: 11-year-old boy suffers stroke after complications with chickenpox, report says

Chickenpox is a contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus that causes a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness and fever. The rash appears first on the stomach, back and face and then spreads over the entire body, causing between 250 and 500 itchy blisters, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The virus also can cause encephalitis, pneumonia and severe dehydration. The best way to prevent chickenpox is to get vaccinated, the CDC said.

In North Carolina, a chickenpox outbreak is the state’s largest since 1995. As of Monday, 36 children contracted chickenpox at a private school in Asheville, N.C., the Associated Press reported.

More than two-thirds of the school’s 152 students haven’t received the vaccine, with many families seeking religious exemptions, the AP reported.

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