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Fifth Disease

What is Fifth Disease?

Fifth disease is a common childhood illness caused by a virus called human parvovirus. The disease usually is mild.

Fifth disease symptoms

  • Red rash on the face that looks like slapped cheeks
  • Lace-like rash on the trunk, arms and legs, buttocks that fades and may reappear depending on the temperature or exposure to sunlight
  • Low-grade fever

Symptoms appear usually four to 14 days after exposure.

Who can get fifth disease?

Fifth disease is a common childhood illness. Adults who have not had fifth disease when they were young can get infected but may not have symptoms; if they have the rash symptoms, they may also have joint pain or swelling.

Treatment of fifth disease

Consult your health care provider about remedies for symptoms. Keep your child home from school; keep your child comfortable and watch for signs of more serious illness. A pregnant woman exposed to a person with fifth disease should inform her health care provider about the exposure.

Spread of fifth disease

Fifth disease is spread by contact with secretions from the nose and throat of an infected person, such as by sharing drinking cups or utensils. An infected person is contagious before the rash appears. Once the rash appears, the person is no longer contagious.

How to prevent the spread of fifth disease

  • Wash hands frequently
  • Cover nose/mouth while coughing/sneezing with tissue; or cough/sneeze into the inside of the elbow
  • Do not share personal items, such as drinking cups or utensils, with other people

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.