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Chickenpox at the University of Dayton

Editor's Note: This was posted originally on Nov. 21. The number will be updated as needed. This letter was sent to students' parents and guardians the same day.

Dear faculty, staff and students,

The University of Dayton has identified five confirmed or probable cases of chickenpox on campus. They either have isolated themselves or left for the Thanksgiving break. We have advised them not to return to classes until they no longer have a fever and their blisters are fully scabbed.

We are notifying the University out of an abundance of caution and to help prevent the spread of chickenpox and other illnesses around campus. The University also has notified the health department.

Anyone suspecting that they have chickenpox should contact the Student Health Center (937-229-3131) or their primary care physician to be evaluated. If chickenpox is suspected, patients will be asked to isolate themselves and not attend classes until they no longer have a fever and their blisters are fully scabbed. The Department of Housing and Residence Life (937-229-3317) will provide isolation housing and/or other reasonable accommodations for students. Students may be excused from class by the provost's office only after they have been evaluated by and receive a note from the Student Health Center or their physician.

Chickenpox is a very contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus. The virus spreads easily from people with chickenpox to others who have never had the disease or have not been vaccinated. The virus spreads by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters, and possibly through tiny droplets that get into the air after infected people breathe or talk. We encourage everyone to frequently wash their hands, cover coughs and sneezes, and we discourage sharing cups, utensils, and e-cigarettes and other nicotine devices. Treatment includes an antiviral prescription, ideally started within 24 hours of rash onset, and something to provide relief for the symptoms, which should disappear in about a week. Aspirin-containing products should not be used.

For those not already vaccinated, we recommend that they get two doses of the chickenpox vaccine, unless they have a medical reason that prevents them from receiving it. Area pharmacies and your local health department may be able to administer the two-dose varicella (chickenpox) vaccine; please call ahead to verify availability and pricing. If you receive the chickenpox vaccination off campus, we ask you to provide documentation to the Student Health Center.

We want to stress that the chance of acquiring chickenpox is low for students who have been immunized against the disease. Women who are pregnant and unvaccinated or do not have a history of chickenpox should talk to their obstetrician about their risks. People who have certain diseases that affect their immune response or take medications that suppress their immune system are at risk of more serious illness and should talk to their physician.

If you visit a physician outside the University's Student Health Center and are suspected of having chickenpox, please inform the University Student Health Center. 

You can read more about chickenpox on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and the University's chickenpox frequently asked questions page.

Students with additional questions or concerns can call or text the Division of Student Development at 937-751-2000 or email or email the Student Health Center at Faculty and staff with additional questions or concerns can contact the Office of Human Resources at 937-229-2538.


William M. Fischer, J.D.
Vice President for Student Development

Mary Buchwalder, M.D.
Medical Director, Health Center