Health Advisory: Chicken Pox

August 13, 2019

Chicken Pox Health Advisory

As of 8/13/19

Recently five UC Berkeley Summer Session students have been diagnosed with Chicken Pox (Varicella). We are monitoring the condition of the students and they appear to be recovering well.

Campus and University Health Services (UHS) officials are working closely with the City of Berkeley Public Health and will continue to monitor the situation closely as this is considered an outbreak of Chicken Pox.  

Chicken Pox (Varicella) is a highly contagious viral infection.  It is spread through direct contact with the virus shedding from the characteristic skin lesions, either airborne or orally. Those with Chicken Pox can spread infection 1-2 days prior to the onset of the rash, and keep spreading until the last lesion has crusted, approximately 6 days later.

We want to alert the campus community to be aware of the symptoms and take any needed precautions or actions.

The symptoms of Chicken Pox may include the sudden onset of fever and unusual fatigue followed 24-36 hours later by a series of lesions (small red bumps) that progress to thin-walled water blisters (resembling drops of dew). These lesions will then crust over. Lesions generally appear in successive crops. The lesions are more abundant on the parts of the skin that are usually covered but may also appear on the scalp, in the mouth, nose, ears and genitals. 

If you have these symptoms, please stay home so you don't expose others. The duration of the illness is variable, but people can generally return to their regular activities seven days after the onset of the rash.  If you are pregnant and don’t know if you are immune to varicella, contact your medical provider. Students may contact the University Healthy Services Advice Nurse at (510) 643-7197 to help assess whether or not you should seek care. Most cases fully recover without treatment.  However, if symptoms are severe, individuals should seek medical evaluation quickly. Faculty and staff should contact their primary medical provider. 

Being vaccinated with the Varicella vaccine is the best way to protect yourself, and to prevent an outbreak. Vaccination for those who have never had the disease or never been vaccinated are important.  Vaccinations may be effective in preventing disease if performed within 3-5 days of exposure. 

Please see CDC Chicken Pox for additional information.