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Letter to Parents and Guardians about Chickenpox

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

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As a number of parents and guardians have asked to be notified of situations that could affect their students' health and safety, and out of an abundance of caution, we are notifying you the University of Dayton has identified five confirmed or probable cases of chickenpox on campus. They have either isolated themselves or left for the Thanksgiving break. We've advised them not to return to classes until they no longer have a fever and their blisters are fully scabbed.

We do not feel there is any immediate significant concern to the University community at this time but are notifying students, faculty and staff as well as parents, to help prevent the spread of chickenpox and other illnesses around campus. We are also in close contact with local public health authorities.

We are encouraging students who have not been vaccinated to receive two doses of the varicella (chickenpox) vaccine. In addition to primary care physicians' offices, 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. For those who are medically unable to receive the vaccination we have recommended they consult with their medical provider. Women who are pregnant and unvaccinated or do not have a history of chickenpox should talk to the 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 students suspect they have chickenpox or symptoms, we are asking them to call the Student Health Center (937-229-3131) or their healthcare provider to make an appointment for an evaluation, letting them know they are concerned about chickenpox. If the physician suspects a student has chickenpox, the physician will ask the student to isolate themselves until they no longer have a fever and their blisters are fully scabbed. University of Dayton Housing and Residence Life (937-229-3317) will help make housing arrangements for students. Students may be excused from class or exams by the provost's office only after they have been evaluated by and receive a note from the  Student Health Center or their healthcare provider. Students should work with their respective faculty members to make up classwork and exams.

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 mainly by touching or breathing in the virus particles that come from chickenpox blisters, and possibly through tiny droplets from infected people that get into the air after they breathe or talk, for example. Antiviral medication may reduce the severity and duration of  chickenpox; treatment for symptoms is also recommended. Aspirin-containing products should not be used.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and the University's chickenpox frequently asked questions page are good resources to answer questions.

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

Sincerely,

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

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