February 26, 2012 (San Diego) -- Two male inmates housed at George Bailey Detention Facility have been diagnosed with chickenpox and are isolated from the general population and are not to receive visitors or to attend activities until they are no longer considered infectious. One was diagnosed in late January and the other in early February.
A third male inmate diagnosed with chickenpox in January is no longer in Sheriff’s custody. The inmate was transferred and is now at Richard J. Donovan Detention Facility.
Officials at the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) note that this case cluster is by definition an outbreak because it involves three or more cases in a non‐medical setting within a two‐month period. This is the first chickenpox outbreak at George Bailey Detention Facility.
The Sheriff’s Department took appropriate measures to avoid spreading the disease throughout the facility when the inmates were first identified with symptoms and notified HHSA when tests confirmed the cases as chickenpox.
Eight other inmates who may have been exposed to the two inmates were offered preventive treatment, advised about symptoms, and placed on symptom watch. Sheriff’s medical personnel, who are working in close contact with the chickenpox‐infected inmate patients, are being educated about the disease, instructed on infection control measures, and evaluated for their immunization status. No one in the general public has been exposed to the illness.
Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella virus and may be prevented by a highly effective vaccine. The disease is easily spread by coughing, sneezing, or contact with chickenpox blisters. Symptoms of chickenpox include a skin rash of blister‐like lesions covering the body, but more concentrated on the face, scalp and trunk. Complications include bacterial infection of skin lesions, dehydration, and pneumonia.
Infected individuals have fever, which develops just before or when the rash appears. If exposed, persons who have been vaccinated against the disease may get a milder illness, with less severe rash and mild or no fever. The incubation period is generally from 14‐16 days from exposure, with a range of 10‐21 days. The illness lasts about 5‐10 days. For more information on chickenpox and immunizations in general, please call the HHSA Immunization Branch at (866) 358‐2966 or visit the website at www.sdiz.org.