Two Rider University students diagnosed with chickenpox

There are are two confirmed student cases of chickenpox at Rider University in Lawrenceville, school officials said this morning in an email to students and staff.

“Given the contagious nature of chickenpox, there is potential that you’ve been exposed. The confirmed cases have been isolated and their close contacts have been notified,” reads the email  from Rider Director of Student Health Services Elizabeth Luciano. “People who are most at risk for contracting the illness are those who have never had chickenpox and are not been vaccinated for chickenpox.”

Chickenpox is a contagious infection caused by a virus and spread from person-to-person by direct contact or through the air. Fever and cold symptoms are often the first signs of illness followed by an itchy, blister-like rash all over the body. Some people who have received the varicella vaccine may still get chickenpox. In vaccinated individuals with chickenpox, the rash is usually less severe and there may be no fever. In healthy children, chickenpox is usually not serious, but occasionally the illness is associated with complications or hospitalization. Chickenpox can be spread for one to two days before the rash starts, until all blisters are crusted or no new lesions appear within a 24-hour period. Once exposed to chickenpox, it takes 10 to 21 days for someone to develop symptoms.

The New Jersey Department of Health recommends that people who have never had chickenpox or have not received the varicella vaccine talk to their health care providers about their exposure.  If the vaccine is administered within three to five days after exposure, it may help prevent or reduce the severity of illness. Vaccination greatly reduces both the mild and serious risks of chickenpox and can also stop the spread of illness to others who may be unable to get vaccinated.