Parents and students in Jurupa Valley could be dealing with a rare disease from the Middle Ages.
Scared parents were demanding more information Tuesday after letters were sent went home to parents saying two students at Indian Hills Elementary in Jurupa Valley “might” be sick with leprosy. School officials say the letter was sent Friday out of what they called, an abundance of caution.
Some parents refused to send their children to school Tuesday after receiving the warning from the Jurupa Unified School District.
It was unclear whether the students are related to each other.
Barbara Cole, the director of disease control for Riverside County, said a school nurse notified the health department of the rare disease on Friday, but it could take weeks to get tests results back to confirm whether the children indeed have leprosy.
“We have not identified any risk at the school and it’s very difficult to transmit to others,” said Cole.
Leprosy is associated with disfiguring skin sores and peeling skin.
The disease is spread through mucus after having close and repeated contact with an infected person. It is easily treatable with antibiotics, even though most of the population is immune to it.
Jurupa Valley Unified Superintendent Elliott Duchon says classrooms have been decontaminated and the students in question are not in school.
“For parents, they need to make a decision for their children but we’re not recommending any precautions,” said Duchon. “There is not a risk at this time.”
Cole said officials have decontaminated the classrooms, and the students in question are not in school.
County health officials have scheduled a meeting after school Wednesday and will also be interviewing the parents to see if they have traveled to less-developed countries, where leprosy is more prevalent.