Most commonly found in children, the virus is not life-threatening, and, like a cold, there is no cure. More cases are expected over the next few weeks.
“It’s not an emergency and there’s nothing you can do but treat the symptoms and let it run its course,” said Carlyn Baker, Woodsboro school nurse.
By recognizing the symptoms, parents more easily can treat them.
“Symptoms of fifth childhood disease include a lacy rash and red cheeks and children sometimes get a little itchy,” said Jamie Steele, Refugio school nurse.
The characteristic “slapped cheek” rash generally appears after the child is no longer contagious.
The disease also resembles a cold with a low-grade fever. The virus is transmitted through saliva or nasal mucus.
“Four of our Headstart children had it,” she said. “While the virus is contagious, by the time symptoms appear, the child can no longer infect other children and may continue to attend school.
“I first saw this illness when I moved to Texas,” said Baker. “Like all childhood illnesses, it can affect adults more severely and may include severe joint pain.”
Steele said that she’s seen the virus “come and go through the years.”
The first cases in both the schools appeared before the Christmas holidays. Many times the virus goes unnoticed.