Suburban school district warning families about contagious ‘slapped cheek’ disease

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NAPERVILLE, Ill — A suburban school district is warning families about the potential spread of a contagious disease.

Officials at Naperville School District 203 say two students in the district were diagnosed with fifth disease, a viral illness which usually causes no complications in children and adults.

The Chicago Tribune reports the disease is also known as erythema infectiosum or slapped cheek syndrome, the fifth disease is common in children and often is characterized by a mild rash caused by parvovirus B19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms include fever, itching, joint pain and swelling and most noticeably a rash that looks like a hand slap, the CDC reports. About 20 percent of children and adults who get infected with this virus will not have any symptoms.

CDC reports the disease is usually mild and will go away on its on; treatment involves relieving symptoms.

Fifth disease is not reportable in Illinois as per Illinois Department of Public Health guidelines, according to David Hass, spokesman for the DuPage County Health Department.

While the district is not required to alert anyone, Michelle Fregoso, director of communications for District 203, said district protocol is to go above and beyond requirements.

If a parent reports a student has come down with fifth disease, the procedure is to post a sign at the visitor sign-in outside the main office. Staff, bus drivers and whoever routinely comes in contact with children also are notified, she said.

The best way to prevent the spread of childhood diseases like fifth disease, according to the state health department, is to practice good hygiene, especially frequent hand washing.

-The Chicago Tribune reporting

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