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Cumberland Valley reports cases of fifth disease - abc27 WHTM

Cumberland County

Cumberland Valley reports cases of fifth disease

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MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

Cumberland Valley School District sent letters home to parents with children at Middlesex and Shaull elementary schools this week to let them know some students have become ill with fifth disease.

Although it can sound a little scary, doctors say fifth disease is a very common virus.

"Fifth disease is a viral illness caused by a virus called parvovirus B19," said Dr. Karine Thevenin-Smaltz of Patient First.

According to Thevenin-Smaltz, 20 percent of those who get infected with the virus won't have any symptoms. Those who do get the symptoms may think they just have a common cold at first.

"You get a fever, cough, headache, kind of seems like the common cold or flu, but it then can produce into a red rash to what we call a slapped cheek appearance," Thevenin-Smaltz said.

The red rash can appear all over the body and can take several weeks to fade. Patients can also have joint pain. The virus is passed through coughing, sneezing and mucus. Doctors say you can only treat the symptoms using pain relievers.

Doctors say fifth disease is not a major concern, but it has the potential to cause some complications for certain people.

"If you are exposed and you are pregnant and you are not immune, that can cause complications for the fetus," Thevenin-Smaltz said. "So, being around pregnant women could potentially be a risk and also people with weakened immune systems."

Cumberland Valley was not required to send letters home to parents at Middlesex Elementary and Shaull Elementary, but did so as a precaution.

The district says at Shaull Elementary, the virus was contained to certain grade levels, so if parents did not get a letter their child's class was not affected.

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