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Fifth Disease

more about Fifth Disease

Erythema infectiosum and Sticker's disease

  • Erythema Infectiosum is a common infectious disease of childhood.
  • The disease is called "fifth disease" because, in the pre-vaccine era, it was the "fifth" of six diseases that children commonly contracted.

  • Fever
  • Common Cold symptoms, including runny nose, congestion, and cough
  • Headache
  • Malaise
  • About a week to 10 days after the above symptoms, children typically develop a rash over the face and body.
    1. The facial rash is bright red and covers the cheeks, leading to the name "slapped cheek" rash.
    2. The body rash usually starts on the trunk and moves out along the limbs, and is lace-like and itchy.
    3. The rash usually resolves by itself over several days to weeks, but can recur for weeks to months when the child is exposed to changes in temperature, or to bright sunlight or other environmental stimuli.

  • Fifth disease is caused with a viral infection by Parvovirus B19.

  • Because fifth disease has such a classic appearance, the diagnosis is usually made with history and physical examination alone.
  • In cases where the diagnosis must be confirmed, such as when pregnant caregivers may have been exposed to an ill child in the home, blood tests can be used.

  • Exposure to children with the disease raises the risk of infection.
  • However, like many other viral illnesses, children with fifth disease are contagious for 1 to 2 weeks before their symptoms develop.  It is, therefore, very difficult to avoid exposure to those with the infection.

  • There is no treatment for fifth disease; affected children resolve the infection on their own over a period of days to weeks.

  • Very rarely, when pregnant women are exposed to children with fifth disease their fetuses may develop serious abnormalities.  The risk to the baby is very, very low, but should be discussed with the woman's obstetrician or pediatrician.  The risk to the fetus is greatest early in pregnancy, and drops dramatically toward the end of pregnancy.  Tests can assess the fetus.
  • Children with chronic blood diseases, such as sickle cell anemia, or hemolytic anemia, may develop blood problems if they are infected with Parvovirus B19.  If these children are exposed to a person with fifth disease, they should see their pediatrician for more information.  The risk to these children, like that to a pregnant woman, is also very, very low.

  • Discuss your concerns with your pediatrician.

more about Fifth Disease

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