Disease: Fifth Disease
(Parvovirus)

    Fifth disease facts

    • Fifth disease is caused by a virus.
    • Symptoms include low fever, fatigue, a "slapped cheeks" rash, joint aches, and a whole body rash.
    • Diagnosis is made based on clinical features.
    • Rarely, fifth disease can become complicated.
    • Fifth disease in pregnant women can cause a miscarriage.

    What is fifth disease? What causes fifth disease?

    Fifth disease is a viral illness caused by parvovirus B19. Fifth disease has also been known as erythema infectiosum and "slapped cheek disease." The clinical illness was distinguished in 1896 and named fifth disease because of its fifth position in the numerical classification of six childhood illnesses associated with rashes (exanthems). Other numbered viral exanthems included measles (rubeola or first disease), rubella (German measles or third disease), and roseola infantum (sixth disease). Scarlet fever was called "second disease" and is due to the bacterium Streptococcus pyogenes. Fourth disease is no longer classified as a clinical entity. These did not get renamed until the molecular era, when it became possible to isolate viruses and bacteria. Fifth disease is a very common infection. Almost 50% of adults have been infected with parvovirus B19 but often do not remember having it because this infection frequently does not cause symptoms.

    What are fifth disease symptoms and signs in children and adults?

    Fifth disease generally occurs in children between 4-10 years of age, but it can affect any age group. Fifth disease most commonly occurs during the winter and spring. The illness classically begins with a low-grade fever, headache, runny nose, and malaise (a sense of not feeling well). Of course, these symptoms mimic any other viral illness, so it is impossible to determine the cause early in the illness. After about a week, initial symptoms are followed by a characteristic bright red rash on the cheeks (the so-called "slapped cheeks"). Finally, after three to four days, a fine, red, lacelike rash can develop over the rest of the body. This rash may last for five to seven days and occasionally comes and goes for up to three weeks. The other symptoms are usually gone by the time the rash appears. Patients with the rash are usually not contagious. Unfortunately, as with many other viral illnesses, the features and timing of the different stages of illness are often unpredictable.

    Unlike other viral infections that usually cause "hand, foot, and mouth disease" (namely coxsackievirus A16 and enterovirus 71), fifth disease does not involve the palms and soles.

    Are there other symptoms that can occur with fifth disease?

    Around 5% of children and about half of adults with fifth disease experience joint aches and pains. This arthritis or arthropathy is more common in females than males, is usually temporary, lasts days to weeks, and may become a long-term problem for months. People with arthritis from fifth disease usually have stiffness in the morning, with redness and swelling of the same joints on both sides of the body ("symmetrical" arthritis). The joints most commonly involved are the knees, fingers, and wrists.

    What are fifth disease symptoms and signs in children and adults?

    Fifth disease generally occurs in children between 4-10 years of age, but it can affect any age group. Fifth disease most commonly occurs during the winter and spring. The illness classically begins with a low-grade fever, headache, runny nose, and malaise (a sense of not feeling well). Of course, these symptoms mimic any other viral illness, so it is impossible to determine the cause early in the illness. After about a week, initial symptoms are followed by a characteristic bright red rash on the cheeks (the so-called "slapped cheeks"). Finally, after three to four days, a fine, red, lacelike rash can develop over the rest of the body. This rash may last for five to seven days and occasionally comes and goes for up to three weeks. The other symptoms are usually gone by the time the rash appears. Patients with the rash are usually not contagious. Unfortunately, as with many other viral illnesses, the features and timing of the different stages of illness are often unpredictable.

    Unlike other viral infections that usually cause "hand, foot, and mouth disease" (namely coxsackievirus A16 and enterovirus 71), fifth disease does not involve the palms and soles.

    Are there other symptoms that can occur with fifth disease?

    Around 5% of children and about half of adults with fifth disease experience joint aches and pains. This arthritis or arthropathy is more common in females than males, is usually temporary, lasts days to weeks, and may become a long-term problem for months. People with arthritis from fifth disease usually have stiffness in the morning, with redness and swelling of the same joints on both sides of the body ("symmetrical" arthritis). The joints most commonly involved are the knees, fingers, and wrists.

    Source: http://www.rxlist.com

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