Malaga records huge increase of slapped cheek syndrome cases

Malaga records huge increase of slapped cheek syndrome cases

There has been a 226.7% increase in cases of the viral infection in the province in the first five months of the year, compared to the same period in 2023

Ester Requena


Friday, 28 June 2024, 18:11

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Malaga province registered 281 cases of slapped cheek syndrome between January and May 2024, i.e. 226.7% more than in the same period in 2023, when a total of 86 cases were diagnosed.

The illness, which is also known in English as fifth disease, is uncommon, but by the end of the school year it is an illness that parents have become very aware of as numerous outbreaks have been recorded in schools across Spain. In fact European health authorities have issued a warning about the increase in the number of cases across the continent.

The virus that causes it is called parvovirus B19 and usually appears annually in late spring and early summer. The disease causes a red rash that usually appears on the child's cheeks, although a spotty rash may appear on the chest, back, arms and legs, according to the UK's National Health Service (NHS) website. An infected person is most contagious especially during the incubation period.

The first symptoms are: slight fever, headache and mild cold-like symptoms. Once these symptoms subside, the rash breaks out on the skin, starting on the cheeks with an intense colour. The rash then spreads to other parts of the body. The incubation period ranges from four to 28 days, with an average of 16 to 17 days.

Andalusian data

The Andalusian government registered between January and May 2024 a total of 1,344 cases, 253.6% more than in the same period in 2023 when 380 cases were registered. This is a "significant" increase in a contagious disease caused by parvovirus B19, which is mild, according to the Andalusian Regional Government in response to questions from Europa Press.

By provinces, Almeria registered between January and May 2024 a total of 105 cases, compared to 44 in the same period in 2023, which means 138.6% more; Cadiz, 233 cases in 2024, 72 in 2023 (+223.6%); Cordoba 110 cases in 2024, 33 in 2023 (+233.3%); Granada, 304 cases in 2024, 40 in 2023 (+660%); Huelva, ten cases in 2024, twelve cases in 2023 (-16.6%); Jaén, 150 cases in 2024, fourteen in 2023 (+971.4%); Seville, 151 cases in 2024, 79 in 2023 (+91.14%), according to the Junta.

The regional department for health and consumer affairs recommends taking "extreme" hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently and covering mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing to prevent the spread of this and other viruses. They also point out that this disease is cyclical, i.e. "there are years when there are more cases and others when there are fewer".

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