Fifth disease is a viral infection that most often happens in children. The infection can cause a mild rash on the face, trunk, and limbs.
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Fifth disease is caused by a virus called parvovirus B19. About half of all adults have been infected with this virus at some time in their life.
The parvovirus is found in saliva, sputum coughed up from the lungs, and nasal mucus. It is usually spread from person to person through contact with those fluids.
Fifth disease is more common in children.
Contact with someone infected with parvovirus B19 may increase your chance of developing fifth disease.
There is a parvovirus that can cause infections in cats and dogs. This is not the same virus that can make humans ill. Contact with an animal with a parvovirus will not make you ill.
The first signs of fifth disease usually occur within 4-14 days after becoming infected. These symptoms may include:
- Low-grade fever
- Stuffy or runny nose
A bright red rash on the face will begin to show a few days after these first signs. Several days later, this rash spreads down the trunk and limbs and will usually go away within 7-10 days.
In some adults, there may be no symptoms or rash. Adults are more likely to have joint pain and swelling with this infection.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Tests may include the following:
- Examination of the rash
- Blood test to identify antibodies to parvovirus
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Usually, fifth disease does not require any treatment other than rest.
Treatment options include the following:
It is difficult to prevent the spread of fifth disease because the virus is most easily passed on before the rash appears. People may not know they are infected.
To help reduce your chances of getting any virus:
- Practice good hygiene.
- Wash your hands often.
- Try to avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose.
- Avoid close contact with people who are infected. Wash your hands after coming in contact with someone who has a virus.