Fifth’s disease is a viral illness that most children recover from without complications. It is known as erythema infectiosum and is cause by the Parvovirus. It is characterized by a bright red rash on the cheeks that make it look like the child has “slapped cheeks”. After the rash appears on the face it spreads down the body in a lace-like rash. The rash could last for one to three weeks. Older children may not get the rash but may have joint swelling and pain.
Fifth’s disease starts with flu like symptoms, low grade fever, fatigue and runny nose. Once these pass, then the rash appears. It is very difficult to contain 5th’s because the children are contagious for 24-48 hours before the rash appears. Once the rash appears the child is no longer contagious.
Fifth’s disease may cause problems for pregnant women, especially during the 1st trimester. Infected adults often have pain and swelling in their joints and sometimes flu like symptoms. Adults don’t usually get the rash.
The best way to prevent the spread of the virus is by proper hand washing, covering mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing and staying home when you don’t feel well.