TWO cases of leprosy could have broken out at a Californian primary school, parents have been warned.
Parents have now refused to send their children to Indian Hills Elementary in Jurupa Valley after notes were sent home warning parents that two students “might” be sick with leprosy.
The school, about an hour's drive from Los Angeles, sent out the warning on Friday, CBS Los Angeles has reported.
Jurupa Valley Unified Superintendent Elliott Duchon said the school’s classrooms had been decontaminated in response to the threat.
He said the two students, who had been warned of the potential diagnosis by a doctor, had alerted the school’s nursing staff.
Mr Duchon said: “For parents, they need to make a decision for their children but we’re not recommending any precautions. There is not a risk at this time.”
The students believed to have been infected have also been pulled out of class for the time being.
It is unclear whether the infected students are related to each other or whether they had recently been overseas.
Riverside County director of disease control Barbara Cole said: “We have not identified any risk at the school and it’s very difficult to transmit to others.”
Despite the attempted reassurances, dozens of parents have kept their children home from school after receiving the letter.
About 90 students were absent from the school on Tuesday morning, three times the usual number.
The children potentially infected will not have their diagnosis confirmed for several weeks.
More than 400 school parents met with health officials after school on Wednesday but were left frustrated when authorities refused to answer any questions about the potentially-infected children and their condition.
As part of the school’s cautionary measures, parents are also set to be interviewed about whether their families have travelled to any less developed countries where the leprosy may have been picked up.
WHAT THE LETTER SENT OUT TO PARENTS SAID
The school district has received an unconfirmed report that two students at Indian Hills Elementary School have been diagnosed with Hansen’s disease (leprosy). This report has not been confirmed by the Health Department. In an abundance of caution, administration wanted to share this information with you as soon as possible.
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy, is a chronic bacterial disease that primarily affects the skin, peripheral nerves and upper airway. Feared as a highly contagious and dangerous disease, it is well established that Hansen’s disease is not highly transmissible, is very treatable, and, with early diagnosis and treatment, is not disabling.”
You can access more information on Hansen’s disease from many sources online. One source is the National Hansen’s Disease Program.