A viral illness that is often referred to as the “slapped cheek disease”, fifth disease is mild and quite common for many children. With that said, it can be severe for those with a compromised immune system and pregnant women. Many doctors often advise individuals with the condition to wait it out, as there isn’t medication that will help shorten the progress of the illness.
The cause of fifth disease is a result of the parvovirus B19, which is an airborne virus that spreads mostly via respiratory secretions and saliva among kids who are in school. It’s most common in the late winter, spring, and early summer; however, it can really hit at any time of the year, within individuals of any age group. The good news is that a majority of adults carry the antibodies that prevent them from contracting the illness, thanks to exposure as children. Even if someone does develop fifth as an adult, most cases mild.
Still, if you are pregnant, or immune-compromised, it is vital to tune into the symptoms of fifth disease, as complications can arise. Signs of the illness pop up in-and-around four to 14 days after someone has been exposed to the illness. Below are 10 common symptoms of fifth disease.
A major tell-tale sign of fifth disease is developing a bright red rash on the cheeks a few days after seeing the cold/flu symptoms emerge. Still, at times, the rash may be the very first symptom that arises or is noticed. The good news is that once the rash does appear, patients are no longer contagious. In fact, once the rash surfaces, children can return to school as they aren’t at risk of spreading the virus at that point.
Rashes show up about 14 to 21 days after someone has been exposed to fifth disease, and can last anywhere from two weeks to 39 days. Unless your child seems very ill, is immune-compromised, or anemic, there is no need to reach out to a doctor; however, should their rash turn painful, purple, blister, or last over five weeks, it is encouraged to reach out for medical attention.