North Carolina's largest chickenpox outbreak since 1995 blamed on vaccine exemptions

North Carolina officials say a chickenpox outbreak at a private school has grown to the state’s largest in more than two decades.

As of Monday, 36 children have contracted chickenpox at the Asheville Waldorf School and exemptions from vaccinations were a contributing factor, according to Buncombe County health officials.

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Chickenpox is a very contagious infection but can be protected with a vaccine.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said in an email it’s the largest chickenpox outbreak in the state since the vaccine was introduced in 1995.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that more than two-thirds of the school’s 152 students haven’t received the vaccine, with many families seeking religious exemptions. The school enrols children from early childhood through sixth grade.

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Health officials say the outbreak is concerning because the virus can cause hospitalization in rare cases.

School officials didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

© 2018 The Canadian Press

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