What is Fifth Disease?
Written by Jessica Smith   
Thursday, 15 October 2009

Fifth disease is a viral infection caused by parvovirus B19. It usually causes a rash and symptoms of mild illness.
What is going on in the body?

Fifth disease is caused by human parvovirus B19. It usually occurs in the spring in schoolage children, preschoolers, or adolescents. Fifth disease is spread through respiratory secretions. Symptoms appear 4 to 14 days after exposure.
What are the causes and risks of the infection?

Fifth disease is generally seen in children in day care, preschool, elementary school, and high school. Adults who are not immune to the parvovirus B19 can also develop fifth disease. It is spread from person to person by respiratory secretions. Coughing and sneezing spread the disease.

What are the treatments for the infection?

Fifth disease usually resolves on its own without treatment. Fever or joint pain may be relieved with over-the-counter pain medications such as acetaminophen. Aspirin should never be given to children, since it increases the risk of Reye's syndrome. Cool baths or compresses may help relieve itching from the rash.

What are the side effects of the treatments?
Medications used to relieve pain or fever may cause stomach upset or allergic reactions.

What happens after treatment for the infection?
The rash associated with fifth disease usually fades in one to two weeks. However, the rash may reappear following exposure to sunlight, heat, exercise, or stress. This does not mean that the illness has returned.