Pupils in ‘slapped cheek’ health scare

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Pregnant women are being urged to take care at a Lancashire school following an outbreak of “slapped cheek syndrome”.

Two children at Little Hoole Primary School on Dob Lane, Walmer Bridge, near Preston, have been confirmed as having the condition while four or five others showed symptoms.

The illness, also known as Fifth’s Disease, is commonly dubbed slapped cheek syndrome because it causes the cheeks to become red and inflamed as if they have been slapped.

It is caused by a virus called parvovirus B19 and in children, it is usually mild with no symptoms in some cases, while some youngsters can suffer mild fever and flu-like symptoms.

However, if a pregnant woman becomes infected, the virus can cause problems and in around 10% of cases of mothers infected in early pregnancy, the baby does not survive.

A spokesman from Little Hoole Primary School said: “Two children at the school have been confirmed as having slapped cheek syndrome and four or five others showed symptoms so we contacted parents.

“We gave advice in our school newsletter on what symptoms to look out for and warned about the risk to pregnant women.”

Dr John Astbury from the Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection unit, said: “Slapped cheek syndrome is very infectious.

“For most people, it is a mild and self-limiting disease, but there is a risk to pregnant women.”

WHAT IS SLAPPED CHEEK SYNDROME?

* Slapped cheek sydrome usually affects children between the ages of three and 15.

* Most children will not need treatment as slapped cheek syndrome is usually a very mild condition that passes in a few days. Occasionally it can last up to four or five weeks.

* The symptoms of slapped cheek syndrome usually begin in the first couple of weeks after the child is exposed to the parvovirus B19 virus.

* Symptoms include a sore throat, headache and fatigue