Doctors say Asheville at risk for chickenpox to spread

Pediatrician Dr. Brigette Fogleman is urging parents to have their children get the chickenpox vaccine. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

An outbreak of chickenpox is spreading in Asheville, according to a report from the Buncombe County Health Department.

The report says 37 students and four additional people are sick, bringing the total to 41 infected.

The school with the outbreak is Asheville Waldorf School, where administrators have not commented on the cases.

Doctors at Asheville Children's Medical Center said they've seen a recent increase in parents bringing kids in for the vaccine for chickenpox.

Pediatrician Dr. Brigette Fogleman urges parents to have their children vaccinated.

"It's a concern for a public health threat," said Fogleman.

She says she's also seen parents refuse vaccines for their kids, and thinks that is a mistake.

"The bacterial infections that can occur can actually cause loss of limbs," Fogleman said.

Pediatrician Dr. Sam Kohn said he's aware the freedom of individual choice that the Asheville community celebrates, including challenging medical professionals who urge vaccinations. He and Fogleman said Asheville is at risk for chickenpox to spread because the community at large, and, largely, children do not have a sufficient percentage vaccinated against sickness.

"It says to me, as a community, that we're not necessarily listening to the best information," Kohn said. "We want them to think about it, both for their individual child and also how they live as part of the community."

Fogleman said this was what she heard on the last case she saw.

"The mother actually told me, 'If I had known this was that bad of an illness and lasted this long, I would have gotten the vaccine,'" Fogleman said.

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