Pregnant teachers granted quarantine leave

Education Minister approves quarantine leave for pregnant teachers following confirmed cases of slapped cheek syndrome in schools.

Slapped cheek syndrome is a type of viral infection that is most common in children, although it can affect anyone of any age.
Slapped cheek syndrome is a type of viral infection that is most common in children, although it can affect anyone of any age.

Education Minister Evarist Bartolo has granted pregnant teachers quarantine leave after several children from various localities in Malta suffered from slapped cheek syndrome.

A few weeks ago, the health ministry confirmed that 23 cases had been reported. While it reassured that there was no cause for alarm, the health ministry warned that if a pregnant woman acquires the infection before 20 weeks of pregnancy, as might happen in other infections during this stage of pregnancy, there is a slightly higher risk of miscarriage.

Minister Bartolo said that medical experts have advised against pregnant teachers being exposed to the virus.

"Even though the risk of miscarriage is rare, we don't want teachers to run this risk. I have thus decided to grant pregnant teachers quarantine leave," Bartolo announced on Facebook.

Slapped cheek syndrome is a viral infection that is most common in children mainly, although it can affect anyone of any age.

Slapped cheek syndrome usually affects children between the ages of 3 and 15. Most cases develop during the late winter months or early spring.

The most common symptom of slapped cheek syndrome is the appearance of a distinctive bright red rash on the cheeks. This is how the condition got its name.

The syndrome is caused by a virus called a parvovirus which is spread in much the same way as the cold or flu viruses through infected secretions from the nose and throat.

Most children will not need treatment as slapped cheek syndrome is usually a very mild condition that passes in a few days.

It can be spread through coughs and sneezes that release tiny droplets of contaminated saliva which are then breathed in by another person.

It's very difficult to prevent the spread of the virus as people are most contagious before their symptoms begin, so they are unaware that they are infected.

Once somebody is infected a lifelong immunity is developed and the infected person will not experience any further symptoms.

The ministry pointed out that frequent hand washing is the best way to prevent the syndrome from spreading.

More in Health