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Fifth Disease (cont.)

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What are the serious complications of fifth disease? Is infection with fifth disease dangerous during pregnancy?

Rarely, patients develop erythrocyte aplasia. This is when 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 (having an immune system that has been impaired by disease or treatment) are at a 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. And, while no birth defects have been reported as a result of fifth disease, in 2%-10% of infected pregnant women, it can cause severe anemia and even the death of the unborn fetus referred to as hydrops fetalis.

What is the treatment for fifth disease?

The treatment is supportive only. Fluids, acetaminophen (Tylenol), and rest are important. Antibiotics are of no use in the treatment of fifth disease since it is a viral illness. In those with persistent arthritis, anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) can be used.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/6/2013

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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/fifth_disease/article.htm

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