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School Moving to Stop Spread of Fifth Disease

School Moving to Stop Spread of Fifth Disease

Posted - Mar. 11, 2004 at 4:41 p.m.



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Ed Yeates ReportingA Salt Lake school is moving quickly to stop the spread of a common viral infection that sometimes causes a "slapped face" like rash.

Yesterday, Grant Elementary School notified the parents of second graders about the illnesses. But today, with a few more suspected cases, ALL parents school-wide were notified.

Four-year old Orlando Jaramillo has what is called Fifth Disease; it's marked by a red rash. Although his redness is gradually fading, you can see why red cheeks often take on sort of a slapped face appearance.

Marci Jaramillo, Orlando's Mother: “It’s not like a rash on top of the skin. It’s underneath the skin, red like being pinched constantly.”

Fifth Disease in kids is common and outbreaks usually occur in schools. It's quite contagious through direct contact or from respiratory droplets in the air. Patients run a slight fever and, like Orlando, often complain of pain in their joints.

Marci Jaramillo: "He's complaining about his thighs and knees, that they hurt when he walks and he doesn't really want to move, that they're stiff and tight."

Although Grant Elementary now has thirteen suspected cases, Fifth Disease so far has been officially diagnosed in only two students. The school though, is taking all necessary precautions.

Dr. Martha Kupferschmidt, Murray School District: "When we have an outbreak such as this, we communicate with the families so they know and understand what's happening, what they can do to protect their children, what they can do to protect themselves."

Sick kids are sent home and can usually return to school in a few days to a week. Adults are usually immune, although it's a potential risk for a pregnant mother in her first trimester.

In people with chronic red blood cell disorders, the infection may cause severe anemia. It's also been associated with arthritis in adults.

Fifth Disease is treated symptomatically at home. You just have to wait it out. Hand washing is the best defense to reduce the spread of the illness.

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