Anti-Vaccination Community Hit With North Carolina's Worst Chickenpox Outbreak in 20 Years
By Brian Niemietz
This community checked every box for a chickenpox outbreak.
A North Carolina grade school with one of the state's highest anti-vaccination rates has become ground zero for an outbreak of the disease, which causes rashy, itchy skin and leads to death in rare cases.
Asheville Waldorf School reported its 36th case of chickenpox on Friday. The school is among the highest in the state in terms of religious exemptions from the immunization, USA Today reports.
According to North Carolina law, a parent who does not want their child vaccinated "must write a statement of their religious objection to immunization." No further explanation appears to be necessary.
The school put out a statement last week seeming to downplay the significance of the epidemic.
Chickenpox -- also called varicella -- is not classified as a dangerous disease by the state of North Carolina, according to that statement. "Asheville Waldorf School is committed to protecting the health and safety of our community."
The outbreak now ranks as North Carolina's highest since a vaccine for chickenpox was introduced to the U.S. market in 1995.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims vaccinations prevent 3.5 million cases of varicella each year and prevents 100 deaths. According to the CDC, infants, people with compromised immune systems and expectant mothers are especially vulnerable to the virus. The organization describes chickenpox as "very contagious" and also calls infection can be "serious."
Of the 152 students at Asheville Waldorf, where students range from kindergarten to the sixth grade, 110 have reportedly not received a chickenpox vaccination.
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