Fifth Disease Fairly Common in Kids

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Fifth Disease which is also known as erythema infectiosum is a viral outbreak caused by the parvovirus B19 and is a fairly common illness with among 60-70% of all adults having contracted it as a child. Surprisingly I have never heard of the disease so when my son came down with an outbreak last week we had to take him to urgent care to identify what illness he was afflicted with so that he didn’t miss too many days in the final week of school.  My son never really had the slapped cheeks which is a common symptom and his rash was relatively mild compared to the images you see on Google or other websites, so note that in several cases you can be almost asymptomatic with the disease and not even know you contracted it.

Fifth Disease Symptoms:

Fifth Disease

  • Red flushed cheeks (red slapped cheeks)
  • Rash & Red spots all over body (generally not raised and often not itchy like chicken pox)
  • Fever (low grade typically 101 in children is common)
  • Runny Nose

Fifth Disease Onset

The disease starts to present symptoms within 4 to 20 days of contracting the virus though typically it is within a week.  The disease is spread through saliva, nasal secretions and a person is most contagious in their first three days of contracting and usually is not contagious after they are already broken out with a rash and red bumps all over the body

Fifth Disease Duration

The disease supposedly takes between 7 and 21 days for all symptoms to clear normally though some report the average is five days.  I found out that at least in the state of Arizona a kid is allowed back in school after their third day of breakout, so even while they still have the dots and rash they can attend school if they are over the fever.

Fifth Disease Treatment:

To treat Fifth Disease you have to give plenty of bed rest and fluids, there is no medicine other than some medicine to address the runny nose and fever that can help speed up recovery from erythema infectiosum.   Because it is a virus not a bacteria antibiotics cannot help fight the disease.  It was recommended by doctors and various websites including WebMD that you can use various skin care products like Aveeno Oatmeal bath and aloe vera and oatmeal lotions to help soothe and calm the irritated skin.

For more information on Fifth Disease (erythema infectiosum) I suggest the following resource material:

KidsHealth.org

CDC.gov

FifthDisease.org

-Justin Germino

Updated: June 7, 2010 — 8:51 am