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Mar 25, 2015

13:13:46 GMT--Biological Hazard - Africa - South Africa

EDIS Number: BH-20150325-47482-ZAF

Date / time: 25/03/2015 13:12:02 [UTC]

Event: Biological Hazard

Area: Africa

Country: South Africa

State/County: State of Kwazulu-Natal

Location: Pietermaritzburg [Merchiston Preparatory School]

Number of Deads: N/A

Number of Injured: N/A

Number of Infected: N/A

Number of Missing: N/A

Number of Affected: N/A

Number of Evacuated: N/A

Damage level: N/A


A chickenpox outbreak has struck a well-known Pietermaritzburg school, forcing the closure of its boarding house. The Merchiston Preparatory School sent its boarders home after 30 boys showed symptoms of the highly contagious infection. The source of the infection is believed to be a day pupil, who arrived with chickenpox a few weeks ago. The school management referred queries to the Department of Health, which had been alerted and had recommended the closure of the boarding house until the end of the Easter holidays. The department yesterday said it was unable to provide information on the outbreak and could not confirm whether other schools were hit by chickenpox. However, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases said it was not aware of other outbreaks or an increase in chickenpox cases. "It''s not an uncommon infection and generally uncomplicated in healthy young persons, resulting in good immunity and protection," said head of NICD''s Public Health Surveillance and Response unit, Lucille Blumberg. She said the vaccine for chickenpox, which is usually available in the private sector, not been available globally for the past year. The shortage has had little impact on the outbreak of chickenpox as children develop an immunity after the first infection.

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