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September 2011

FIFTH DISEASE PROTOCOL FOR PREGNANT EMPLOYEES

BACKGROUND

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.

PROTOCOL

I Education

 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

the disease.

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

same.

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