Chickenpox outbreak investigated at Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau

Posted on Fri, Jan. 20, 2006

Associated Press

GALESVILLE, Wis. - Health officials are looking into an outbreak of
chickenpox in the Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District in which all
except two of the 44 affected children had been vaccinated against the

Dan Hopfensperger, director of the Wisconsin Immunization Program, said the
outbreak is the largest among vaccinated children he can recall in the

The outbreak began in mid-November at the Kindernook Learning Center, where
36 of 99 kindergartners developed chickenpox.

The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services said it is trying to
determine why so many vaccinated students developed the illness, when health
experts rate the vaccine as from 85 percent to 97 percent effective.

"We're way above the 15 percent," Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau school nurse
Barbara Hogden said.

Hogden said the vaccine is fragile and must be stored frozen. But she said
the infected students obtained vaccinations from a number of different
providers, and no manufacturer has reported a bad batch of vaccine.

Only one of the district's chickenpox cases cannot be traced back to the
kindergarten building, Hogden said, and that student was not vaccinated.


Information from: La Crosse Tribune,