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Chickenpox breaks out in Whistler

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Day care waiting to see results next week when incubation period ends

Whistler may face a chickenpox outbreak, with local daycares and one ski school location affected.

"We did have a parent call us that their child had chickenpox," said Teresa Bouchard, general manager of Whistler Kids and the Ride Tribe programs for Whistler-Blackcomb.

"And as we would do in this type of circumstance our staff called the parents of all the children who might have been in contact with the infected child to let them know."

There was also a case of chickenpox at Whistler-Blackcomb’s infant care centre and again parents were contacted.

The ski school will not accept kids who are sick, said Bouchard. And if children become ill as the day progresses parents are contacted and arrangements are made to send the child home.

At the Whistler Children’s Centre about half a dozen kids have come down with the disease.

But, said director Julia Black, next week will be the real indicator of how hard the Nesters location and Spring Creek will be hit as that’s when the incubation period will be up for all those kids who came in contact with those infected with chicken pox.

"If we are going to have a big spread we will start seeing it this coming week," said Black.

The Whistler Children’s Centre has stringent rules when it comes to sick kids being at the facility. But the policy relies on parents acting responsibly and not bringing kids to the centre if they are ill.

"We expect that we work in partnership with the families and we do understand that families are the best judge of the children’s health and we entrust that they will not bring sick children to the centre," said Black.

"However if they do the staff do have a very clear health policy to follow and do have the right to send a child home immediately upon entry."

Children will also be sent home during the day if they become sick while at the facility.

The difficulty with chickenpox is that children can appear perfectly healthy but still be contagious with the disease.

According to Dr. Paul Martiquet, medical health officer for the region, Whistler does not experience higher numbers of kids with chickenpox than other areas such as Squamish, just because the town has a high number of visitors from afar.

"As far as I understand we have the same rates as other regions," he said.

It used to be that when chickenpox hit a community a parent or two would organize a "pox party" so all the local kids could get it young and get it over with.

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