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Roanoke Daily Herald

Exact cause of rash outbreak still unknown

Jennifer Heaslip /Herald News Editor
April 13, 2005

Local health officials are still puzzled by the number of children with rashes in area schools last week.

The rash is described as red and bumpy and is located on the back of the neck just below the hairline. Most of the cases were in Roanoke Rapids schools, and about 150 students have the rash, according to the Halifax County Health Department.

Although an exact cause hasn't been determined, Health Department Director Lynda Smith said it only caught their attention because of the large number of students who have the rash, not because of its severity. The rash would look like an every day occurrence if not for the numbers, she said.

About 20 students were examined by state epidemiologist Jeffrey Engel, who visited the schools Thursday because of the large number of students effected. Engel said the rash was mild, although scratching can lead to oozing and infection.

Engel listed multiple causes of the rash including eczema, seborrhea, poison ivy and head lice., and added that outbreaks in school-age children are normal.

Smith said she hopes the rash will be gone in a week, and added that school nurses did a great job treating the ailment.

Carol Cowen, director of student services for Roanoke Rapids Graded Schools, said she noticed the rash before Christmas Break at Clara Hearne Pre-K. After break, the rash was found at the elementary schools and then at the middle and high schools.

Children at other schools and daycares in the county also have the rash, she said.

A cold compress should be put on the rash and hydrocortisone cream can be used for relief. Children with a fever or swollen glands should see a doctor.


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