Fifth Disease (cont.)
Robert Ferry Jr., MD
Robert Ferry Jr., MD, is a U.S. board-certified Pediatric Endocrinologist. After taking his baccalaureate degree from Yale College, receiving his doctoral degree and residency training in pediatrics at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA), he completed fellowship training in pediatric endocrinology at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
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 the serious complications of fifth disease? Is infection with fifth disease dangerous during pregnancy?
Rarely, these patients develop erythrocyte aplasia, meaning the bone marrow stops forming a normal number of red blood cells. This complication is rare and usually transient, but can be fatal. Patients who are immunocompromised (by disease or treatment) are at high risk of this complication.
Pregnant women (who have not previously had the illness) should avoid contact with patients who have fifth disease. The fifth disease virus can infect the fetus prior to birth. Although no birth defects have been reported as a result of fifth disease, for 2%-10% of B19-infected pregnant women, fifth disease can cause severe anemia and even the death of the unborn fetus (by hydrops fetalis).
What is the treatment for fifth disease?
The only available treatment is supportive. Fluids, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and rest provide relief. Antibiotics are useless against fifth disease, because it is a viral illness. For those with persistent arthritis, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can be used.
How is fifth disease spread? When is the contagious stage, and should I be isolated if I have fifth disease?
Parvovirus B19 is usually spread by droplets. The virus can be spread whenever an infected person coughs or sneezes. However, once the rash is present, that person is usually no longer contagious and need not be isolated.
Is it possible to prevent the spread of fifth disease?
Similar to most viral illnesses, the best way to prevent the spread of the disease is by proper hand washing, by covering your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, and by staying home when you become sick.
Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease
American Academy of Pediatrics. "Parvovirus B19 (Erythema Infectiosum, Fifth Disease)." In: Pickering LK, ed. Red Book: 2009 Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases. 28th ed. Elk Grove Village, IL: American Academy of Pediatrics, 2009: 491-493. Available at: http://aapredbook.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/2009/1/3.92.
Broliden, K et. al. "Clinical Aspects of Parvovirus B19 Infection." Journal of Internal Medicine 260.4 Oct. 2006: 285-304.
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