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Fifth Disease seen in area children

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More area children are developing a contagious rash this year and schools are letting parents know about it.

Dozens of children are going to local doctors with Fifth Disease. School nurses say, although it is not a major illness, it's very contagious.

Bushland Elementary School Nurse Betsy Weaver says, "We've seen a lot more cases this year of Fifth Disease. The rash that they typically will present with lasts longer." She says the rash caused by Parvovirus B19, seems to spread over more of the body.

Doctor John Young with Panhandle Pediatrics says, "For young children, unless they have some type of underlying problem with producing red blood cells, parvovirus has very mild symptoms." He says he's seen twice as many children with Fifth Disease this year.

Dr. Young says, ''During the time that they're having those very very mild symptoms at home, they're having that very low-grade temperature, a little bit of sore throat, cough, and runny nose, they're actually contagious. But by the time the rash presents, they're no longer contagious."

Doctors say about 20% of the children will not show any symptoms. It's common for the rash to come and go, and last several weeks.

Weaver says this is the first year they see children with the illness lasting over a month. She says, "I sent an email out to my staff just to let them know that we are seeing more Fifth Disease this year. And the staff then would send the students to me when they would notice the rash so I can contact the parents."

AISD sent letters to parents just yesterday to tell them it's being seen in children at the schools. Doctors believe it's more prominent this year because there's a new strain of the virus.

If you're pregnant, doctors say it can cause a fetus to develop severe anemia and in rare cases, even die. Young says, "The mother caught Fifth Disease within about two weeks of delivery. And that baby actually had very severe symptoms associated with it. The baby had to be transfused multiple times, had enlargement of the liver and spleen."

Area schools are making sure kids wash their hands a lot, and use sanitizer as they're walking in and out of classrooms.

 

Jessica Abuchaibe, NewsChannel 10. 

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