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FIFTH DISEASE PROTOCOL FOR PREGNANT EMPLOYEES
Fifth Disease is a common and generally harmless condition that affects mainly young children.
While the disease is relatively harmless, it can present some serious risks to the fetus of a
pregnant women infected with the disease. A child who has contracted Fifth Disease will display
a rash on his or her face that gives the appearance of a hand slap (a more wide spread rash will
appear a few days later). However, like chicken pox, the contagious period for this disease is
before the rash appears. Consequently, other children will have been exposed prior to an
outbreak being detected. The outbreak can only be considered finished once 20 calendar days
have passed with no further confirmed cases.
Several outbreaks of Fifth Disease have been reported in our schools over the last few years. In
these cases, the most pressing concern is how to deal with pregnant employees in the school. For
this reason, the following protocol has been developed to ensure that the Board is responding in a
responsible fashion and to ensure that employees are treated in a fair and consistent manner.
Principals should educate employees and students (parents) about the symptoms of Fifth
Disease and ask that symptoms be reported.
Principals should educate employees about the measures to be taken to reduce exposure to
II Detection of Outbreaks
If there is some evidence of presence of the disease and there is no known outbreak at the
time, students should be asked to obtain a medical diagnosis.
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Request that the City of Ottawa’s Public Health Department advise the Board of any new
studies or research which suggest a heightened risk to fetuses exposed to Fifth Disease. In
addition, that the Public Health Department request from the Children’s Hospital of Eastern
Ontario notification of the onset of the Fifth Disease ‘season’ as well as any unusual rate of
incidences of Fifth Disease and that the Public Health Department notify the Board of the
III Reassignment of Pregnant Employees
Pregnant employees are encouraged to obtain the blood test that will confirm whether or not
they have the anti-bodies against Fifth Disease. Employees should consult their own doctor
regarding the test (costs for such a test will be at no cost to the Board). Employees who are
immune from the disease are considered not at risk and are not the subject of this protocol.
When an outbreak of Fifth Disease is confirmed, and an employee has not yet been tested for
the anti-bodies, the employee may be paid sick leave (provided she has enough sick leave
available) while she meets with doctors and obtains the required tests. While awaiting the
test results she may continue on paid sick leave (provided she has enough sick leave
available) or she may request to be reassigned to another school or department. If it is
determined that she is not immune to Fifth Disease, the Board will re-assign her to another
school or department. The employee will not be reassigned to her school until there is no
further evidence of an outbreak (20 calendar days with no confirmed cases). If the employee
is immune to Fifth Disease she will return to her own school.
If the employee has already been tested and does not have the anti-bodies against Fifth
Disease, the Board will reassign the employee to another school or department until the
outbreak is over. The employee will not be reassigned to her school until there is no further
evidence of an outbreak (20 calendar days with no confirmed cases).
Where a pregnant employee has been tested and found not to have the anti-bodies against
Fifth Disease, and if the employee does not wish to remain in the school for fear of potential
exposure (even when there has been no outbreak of the disease), the Board will grant an
unpaid leave of absence for the period requested.
IV Ongoing Review
The Board will periodically review this protocol to ensure that up to date medical information is
considered and that the steps and measures taken by the Board are appropriate and fair