What is Fifth Disease

Many parents are naturally concerned about Fifth disease and how it can affect their children. That's because Fifth Disease is most common in children between the ages of 5 and 15. So what is fifth disease? Fifth disease is also known as Erythema Infectiosum. It is a type of viral infection caused by the Parvovirus B19.

Parvovirus B19 is not to be confused with the canine Parvovirus strain. Unlike the canine version of this virus, Parvovirus B19 cannot be transferred between humans and animals.

Fifth disease is one of 5 common childhood diseases that produce a rash symptom. The other four are measles, scarlet fever, rubella and chicken pox all of which are viral excepting scarlet fever.

Fifth disease outbreaks occur throughout the world and at a variety of different times although more commonly occurring in late winter to early spring.  Symptoms typically begin to appear around 17 days after infection although this can differ by about a week either way.

When trying to ascertain the answer to the question 'what is fifth disease' it may help to know it is sometimes referred to as "slapped cheek disease". This is due to its primary symptom of a rash that resembles a fresh slap to the face. When this rash appears it is much easier to diagnose Fifth disease, and by this time the period of contagiousness has passed as it can only be passed during the incubation period. However, some people may be able to spread the disease for a longer period of time, such as those of us with a weaker immunity, or with certain types of blood disorders.

Around 40% of adults under a medical examination have been found to have evidence of a past Parvovirus B19 infection. This is contrary to medical records and suggests that most people who have contracted Fifth disease only suffer minor symptoms or no symptoms at all.

Outbreaks of Fifth disease usually take place every 3 or 4 years typically manifesting in school children.  At the present time there is no vaccination for this virus the only thing you can do to help is promote regular hand washing to prevent the spread of the virus.

Most people only suffer mild symptoms from this disease such as headaches or other flu-like symptoms. Getting plenty of bed rest and taking pain killers such as Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen can be used to help alleviate the symptoms of headaches and joint pains.  Your doctor will help you choose the right pain killers for the symptoms.

Try to keep the person infected with fifth disease, isolated to prevent the spread of the virus. Plenty of bed rest and fluids will help them to recover from the virus which can take a couple of weeks.

Hopefully this will have helped you answer the question "what is fifth disease" to help you to prepare for you or your children should they contract this virus. If you suspect fifth disease is present you should consult your doctor for a diagnosis.