Fifth Disease

Fifth disease is a viral infection that largely affects children from five to 15 years of age. The redness of the cheek, which is the major symptom of fifth disease, looks like slapped cheek, hence giving the disease its more popular name, slapped cheek. Parvovirus B19 is responsible for this viral disease. Although, fifth disease could occur at any time, the risk of the viral illness is greater during late winter and early spring, when the parvovirus B19 is most active. Rarely fifth disease occurs in adults. About 40 to 60 percent adults suffering from fifth disease had a history of parvovirus B19 infection during childhood.

Symptoms of fifth disease

Mild fever, runny or stuffy nose and headache are the initial symptoms of fifth disease. Few days after these symptoms subside, bright red rashes develop on the cheeks. The rash would gradually spread to the trunk and limbs within the next few days. Rarely the rash occurs on the palms and soles. The red rash is more common among young kids. It might take up to three weeks for the rash to fade. Heat, physical activities, stress and sunlight might increase the redness of the rash. Occasionally joint pains, sore throat, swollen glands and diarrhea can develop in people suffering from fifth disease.

Fifth disease is highly contagious. The risk of spreading infection is greatest during the early stage of the disease before the rash appears. The disease spreads through coughing and sneezing.

Fifth disease prevention and treatment

The risk of contracting fifth disease is greater among children who have earlier not suffered from this disease. To prevent fifth disease, ask your child to stay away from people who are coughing or sneezing. The risk of developing fifth disease could be reduced by practicing proper hygiene.

Medications cannot kill the virus responsible for the disease. This viral infection cures naturally as soon as enough antibodies are produced by the immune system. Adequate rest and drinking enough water and fluids could reduce the discomfort caused by the disease. Painkillers might be needed for reducing joint pain. However, you should avoid aspirins.

Risks of fifth disease

Fifth disease is largely a mild ailment. However, it might temporarily lower the red blood cells. This disease can cause anemia in pregnant women and children with impaired immune system.