“Fifth Disease” rash outbreak at Great Bend elementary school

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GREAT BEND, Kan. (KSNW) — A Great Bend elementary school is experiencing a rash outbreak.

Jefferson Elementary School’s principal sent an email to parents alerting them about the rash virus, called Fifth Disease.

Barton County health officials said its symptoms are similar to the common cold — a runny nose, fever, cough and sneeze.

According to the county’s Health Department director, it’s more common in children than adults — and there’s one way to know if your child has it.

“The tell tale sign is that red, lacy rash on their cheeks, like somebody slapped them,” said Shelly Schneider.

That rash extends down to the arms and legs. Officials said the person can also get stiff, painful joints.

Schneider said the virus is spread through respiratory secretions, such as saliva or mucus. KSN’s Amanda Aguilar asked when are people most contagious — Schneider said it’s during the cold symptom phase.

“By the time the disease presents itself to where you can see it, they’ve already exposed everybody,” Schneider said.

According to officials, it is likely this virus can spread to other schools. They advise parents and children to remember to wash their hands.

“Don’t put your hands in your mouth if they’ve been somewhere else. Don’t share drinks. Don’t share food and don’t share eating utensils, and you should be okay,” said Schneider.

In an email sent out to Jefferson parents, officials said they are disinfecting rooms as often as possible and trying to limit interactions that may spread the virus.

County officials told KSN about 25% of Jefferson Elementary’s students were impacted by Fifth Disease. We reached out to the school district about the outbreak, but they did not want to provide any comments.