Fifth Disease

Fifth Disease

PUBLIC HEALTH FACTSHEET

What is Fifth Disease?
Fifth disease is a viral infection caused by the human parvovirus, B19. Most cases appear in winter and spring, and clusters or outbreaks are not unusual in elementary and middle schools.

How is it spread?
  • Mode of spread probably involves respiratory secretions and blood.
  • Can be transmitted from infected mother to a fetus, but this happens in less than 5% of pregnant women infected with parvovirus. 50% of adults have serological evidence of past infection and are probably not susceptible to reinfection.
How is it treated?
Treatment is supportive. Acetaminophen may be recommended to control fever. Fluids and rest are encouraged.

How can we prevent Fifth Disease?
  • Transmission of infection is likely to be lessened by routine hygienic practices for control of respiratory infections which include good hand washing and disposal of tissues containing respiratory secretions.
  • Exposed pregnant women should consult their physician regarding antibody testing to determine susceptibility and assist with counseling regarding risk to their fetuses.
  • Pregnant women with infected children at home are advised to wash their hands frequently and avoid sharing eating utensils.
  • SYMPTOMS OF FIFTH DISEASE
    • A bright red rash begins on the face, producing a slapped cheek appearance.
    • After 1-4 days a lacy-like rash appears on the arms, trunk, buttocks, and thighs.
    • Rash usually resolves in 7 - 10 days.
    • The rash recurs and fluctuates in intensity with environmental changes.
    • Other possible symptoms are fever, headache, fatigue and aching.
    • Can also have mild respiratory or gastrointestinal illness.