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 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.
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