Some Students and Families May Be Unable to Attend THON Due to Chickenpox Exposure
A small subset of students who attended last Saturday’s Penn State basketball game may have been exposed to the chickenpox virus that may hinder their ability to attend THON.
According to Penn State health officials, one child attending the THON Hoops game was previously exposed to the virus and is now being treated at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. In all, 70 families with children diagnosed with or recovering from pediatric cancer participated in the event. Around 150 Penn State students, 22 pediatric hematology/oncology patients, and two pediatric rheumatology patients and their families have been identified as potentially being exposed to the virus. Some of the students possibly exposed included student-athletes who either interacted with THON families during the game or at a reception following the game.
Officals notified patients and their families of the potential exposure over the phone. Families were urged to take certain precautions over the next three to four weeks due to the contagious nature of the virus.
“Parents and their children in attendance have been notified and we are directly notifying students who may have been exposed to the virus to determine if they have immunity either from having the disease or receiving two doses of the chickenpox vaccine,” said Dr. Robin Oliver, a physician for UHS in the press release. “Anyone who had the disease can have a blood test done to verify immunity.”
The students identified as being potentially exposed to the virus received emails from University Health Services identifying precautionary steps to take prior to THON. If these students plan to attend THON, they must show proof of immunization prior to the event. UHS will be conducting lab tests for anyone who previously had the illness to verify their immunity.
THON also issued a statement on the situation:
“We were incredibly saddened to hear not only that a child with a compromised immune system is now suffering from chickenpox, but to also hear the ramifications of that, and how this was going to impact other families that attended THON Hoops last Saturday. Our priority is two fold, we want to make sure that all students are following instructions from University Health Services before coming to THON Weekend to ensure the safety of our event and the families attending. At the same time, we also need to make sure that every family who just heard they are no longer able to experience THON Weekend will feel supported and encouraged, despite the fact they cannot join us in the Bryce Jordan Center.”