Two cases of Chickenpox were confirmed at Casa Esperanza yesterday, according to the Public Health Department (PHD) and shelter executives. Both cases occurred in residents of the winter shelter, as opposed to day center members who sleep elsewhere. The individuals are both males in their mid-30s, said Executive Administrator Imelda Loza. The first case was diagnosed at Cottage Hospital, the second by a PHD nurse during regular office hours at the shelter yesterday morning.
The Chickenpox, or Varicella, virus spreads easily via an infected person’s cough or sneeze, or through the sharing of food. It’s also spread by contact with the fluid (puss) in the sores that ultimately break out. Because of this, shelter managers shifted into emergency mode yesterday morning. By pure chance, or luck, the Medical Director of the county’s Healthcare for The Homeless program, David Lennon, MD, was at the shelter yesterday morning for an 8:30 am meeting, when the second case was identified. So, he was able to provide direct advice and meet with shelter executives to devise a response plan.
Loza said not long after discovering the two cases, all winter shelter and day shelter residents were called in to an emergency meeting in the main shelter sitting area. They were informed of the cases and a public health nurse asked who among them had either not had Chickenpox or had no memory of having it. Two people raised their hands, according to Loza. Those individuals were then seen individually and reminded they had the freedom to leave if they wished. Both individuals opted to say, according to Loza. To read more, see homelessinsb.org.