Fifth Disease (cont.)
David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP
Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Fifth disease facts
- What is fifth disease? What causes fifth disease?
- What are fifth disease symptoms and signs in children and adults?
- Are there other symptoms that can occur with fifth disease?
- What are the serious complications of fifth disease? Is infection with fifth disease dangerous during pregnancy?
- What is the treatment for fifth disease?
- How is fifth disease spread, when is the contagious stage, and should I be isolated if I have fifth disease?
- Is it possible to prevent the spread of fifth disease?
- Find a local Pediatrician in your town
What are fifth disease symptoms and signs in children and adults?
Though fifth disease generally occurs in children between 4-10 years of age, it can affect any age group, including adults. It most commonly occurs during the winter and spring. The illness classically begins with a low-grade fever, headache, runny nose, and malaise (a sense of not feeling well). Of course, these symptoms mimic any other viral illness, so it is impossible to determine the cause early in the illness. After about a week, this is followed by a characteristic bright red rash on the cheeks (the so-called "slapped cheeks" rash). Finally, after three to four days, a fine, red, lacelike rash can develop over the rest of the body. This rash may last for five days to a week and occasionally comes and goes for up to three weeks. The other symptoms are usually gone by the time the rash appears, and patients with the rash are usually not contagious. Unfortunately, as with many other viral illnesses, the features and timing of the different stages of illness are not always predictable.
Are there other symptoms that can occur with fifth disease?
Around 5% of children and around 50% of adults with fifth disease, or parvovirus infection, can have joint aches and pains. This arthritis or arthropathy is more common in females than males and is usually temporary, lasting days to weeks, but may become a long-term problem for months. People with arthritis from fifth disease usually have stiffness in the morning, with redness and swelling of the same joints on both sides of the body (a "symmetrical" arthritis). The joints most commonly involved are the knees, fingers, and wrists.
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