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06-14-06 County has high number of chicken pox cases

By Shelley Grieshop

  WAPAKONETA -- Auglaize County health officials are seeing spots.

  A high number of chicken pox (varicella) cases this year has nurses in the county wondering what's up.

  "We're not sure if the numbers are high or if it's just good reporting," said Cindy Jones, nursing director at the Auglaize County Health Department, while addressing the monthly board meeting Tuesday morning.

  Jones told board members there were 51 cases of chicken pox reported to the department during the month of May. Since January, the Auglaize County Health Department has recorded 89 cases. Previous year's statistics aren't reliable because schools and health facilities did not have to report chicken pox cases until the state mandated it in January.

  Without an accurate history of statistics, the numbers appear high. But officials doubt there are more speckled children afflicted with the disease this year than before. They credit the numbers to good reporting.  "We've got a really good rapport with the schools, and they're very good about letting us know when they have cases," said Deb Scheer, director of communicable diseases at the health department.

  Scheer said this year she sent out letters to area schools including preschools and daycare centers, reminding them about the 6-month-old law.

  Chicken pox cases also have been plentiful in Mercer County, with 68 cases reported since January, Nursing Director Sally Bowman said this morning. Like Auglaize County, previous year's statistics are minimal because reporting them to the health department was only voluntary.

  Chicken pox is an infectious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which results in a blister-like rash, itching, tiredness and fever. Most cases occur in people less than 15 years old. Its effects usually last about 5 to 10 days. After being exposed, it can take from 10-21 days for someone to develop symptoms if contracted. A vaccine is readily available and routinely given to youngsters to prevent the illness.

  In other business, board members:

   Approved contract renewals for: Schwieterman's Pharmacy ($2,000), Stephanie Mosler, R.Ph. ($2,000), both for pharmacy needs, and Foundations Behavioral Services ($30,000) for social worker needs. All three are funded through the family planning grants.

   Approved contracts for Joint Township Home Health ($10,600), for Help Me Grow newborn visits; Sources ($500) for Help Me Grow client transportation typically to Children's Hospital, Dayton; Auglaize County Department of Job and Family Services ($128,530), Help Me Grow funding; and New Knoxville Local, Minster Local, St. Joseph, Wapakoneta, and Wapakoneta City Schools for various student exams at costs determined per exam.

   Approved a request for a variance for the Wapakoneta KOA Campground for a 15-foot isolation distance between campers on several specified lots. Because some newer campers have pull-out hydraulics on the side, the campground cannot always abide by the 15-foot distance rule.

   Approved a motion to refund a temporary food service operation license fee of $54 to Patricia Hazel, 302 S. Ash St., Celina. Hazel had applied for the license for an event at Valley Nursing Home that was canceled.

   Learned the next meeting will be held July 11.


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