Mich. county's chicken pox cases increase

Health Department officials in Oakland County, Michigan, say they are seeing more children than expected being diagnosed with chicken pox for this time of year, prompting several school districts to spread the word to parents about new rules for a second dose of the vaccine, the Detroit Free Press reported Jan. 25.

About 80 cases have been reported since the start of the 2009-10 school year, said Julie Vaishampayan, chief of medical services for the county health department.

"It's not an outbreak," Vaishampayan said, but it is higher than health officials have come to expect. In 2009, 225 cases were reported in the county. Health officials in Wayne and Macomb counties said they were not seeing an increase of reported cases.

Statewide, the number of reported cases has dropped from 8,809 in 2000 to 1,897 in 2009, said James McCurtis, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Vaishampayan said Oakland County's uptick is likely because of the fact that the children being diagnosed have only had one dose of the vaccine, not the recommended two.

As of Jan. 1, state law requires that all children entering kindergarten or sixth grade or changing schools must get the second dose.

"We want to nip these transmissions in the bud," said Bob Swanson, director of the Division of Immunization for the Michigan Department of Community Health.