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Erythema Infectiosum (Fifth’s Disease): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Sep 08, 2023

Erythema Infectiosum (Fifth’s Disease): Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, Prevention and Complications

Erythema infectiosum, often known as the fifth sickness, is a pediatric disease characterized by a bright red rash on your child's cheeks. Because of this rash, the condition is sometimes known as "slapped cheek disease.

 The fifth disease is brought on by the parvovirus B19. This virus is widespread and very contagious. Through coughing or sneezing, infected people can spread the illness.

The fifth disease is typically not a major medical problem. It frequently fades away with little to no therapy.

The term "fifth disease" was given to a group of six illnesses since it was the fifth viral skin rash that was found to infect youngsters. The following is the list:

  • Measles.
  • Scarlet fever.
  • Rubella
  • Dukes' disease.
  • The fifth illness is erythema infectiosum.
  • Roseola.

Symptoms Of Fifth’s Disease

 Flu-like symptoms, which are often mild, are frequently the first signs of a parvovirus B19 infection. The virus is most infectious during this time. These signs comprise:

  • Fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Achiness.
  • Low-grade fever (between 37.5°C and 38.5°C or 99° to 101° F).
  • Runny nose.
  • Sore throat.

20% of kids with parvovirus B19 infections don't exhibit these symptoms. They are still capable of spreading the infection.

It may take many days for the raised, bright red rash (fifth disease) to appear on your child's face after the commencement of flu-like symptoms. The rash could itch. Usually, after the rash forms, the flu-like symptoms disappear in children.

In some circumstances, a second rash that appears after the cheek rash may be seen. Your child's skin could develop it; it typically has a "lacey" appearance.

  • Arms.
  • Legs.
  • (Back and chest) Trunk.
  • Buttocks.
  • Joint discomfort and oedema are also seen in 10% of kids with the fifth condition.

Adults' Symptoms Of The Fifth Disease

Adults infected with parvovirus B19 frequently experience flu-like symptoms but no rash. Around 80% of individuals additionally have knee, wrist, and hand joint discomfort in addition to these symptoms.

Causes Of Fifth’s Disease

A fifth disease is brought on by human parvovirus, also known as parvovirus B19. Unlike the parvovirus that infects dogs and cats, this is different. Four to 14 days after your child contracts parvovirus B19, the fifth disease (a red rash) commonly manifests.

The parvovirus B19 spreads easily. Respiratory droplets in your mouth and nose are the main means of transmission. Your child may catch the virus from an infected person if they chat, cough, or sneeze close to them.

Additionally, but rarely, a pregnant woman's blood can be exposed to a fetus and spread parvovirus B19.

The parvovirus B19-induced red rash, the fifth illness, is not spread through contact. In fact, once a parvovirus B19-infected person develops a red rash, they are no longer contagious and cannot infect others with the virus.

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Diagnosis of Fifth’s Disease

Based on your child's symptoms, medical professionals frequently diagnose the fifth disease.

Strong evidence of this illness is the "slapped cheek" rash. The fifth disease can typically be identified in the office by your child's doctor without the need for any additional tests when it is present with flu-like symptoms. In extremely rare circumstances, your child's doctor can ask for blood testing to confirm the fifth disease.

Treatment Of Fifth Disease

The signs and symptoms of the fifth disease often fade away with little or no treatment in a few weeks. In order to manage joint pain, headaches, and fever, your child's doctor may advise over-the-counter (OTC) painkillers. These drugs consist of:

  • Acetaminophen.
  • Ibuprofen and naproxen are examples of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs).
  • Make sure you properly adhere to the dose guidelines.

If your child contracts a fifth disease and has a compromised immune system, they might require hospital care.

Prevention Of Erythema Infectiosum

The fifth disease cannot be prevented by a vaccine. The easiest way to transfer the virus is by nasal and oral droplets, therefore maintaining excellent hygiene is the greatest approach to avoid getting sick. You can lower the chance of illness in your family by:

  • Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently.
  • Sneezing or coughing into your elbow's crook.
  • Keeping your distance from those who are ill.

Complications Of Fifth’s Disease

Complications from the fifth illness are quite infrequent in healthy children and adults.

However, the condition might be problematic for those with a blood ailment or a compromised immune system. This is because the virus may interfere with your body's ability to produce red blood cells. Your youngster might require a blood transfusion if their red blood cell count falls so low as a result of it.

The following conditions enhance the likelihood of problems in kids (and adults):

  • Such as leukemia, is cancer.
  • HIV.
  • Specific anemias, including thalassemia and sickle cell anemia.
  • An organ transplant.

If your kid exhibits any of these symptoms, call their doctor as soon as the fifth disease rash emerges or if they experience flu-like symptoms, which typically appear before the fifth disease rash.

The Fifth Disease's Adult Complications

Chronic (long-term) parvovirus-associated arthritis in multiple joints, also known as polyarthritis, affects about 10% of individuals who contract parvovirus B19. Affirmed female at-birth (AFAB) people are more likely to experience this complication than Affirmed male at-birth (AMAB) people.

Pregnancy and the Fifth Disease

If you contract the fifth disease while expecting (parvovirus B19 infection), it might transfer to the fetus and lead to issues like:

  • Miscarriage.
  • Stillbirth (fetal death intrauterine).
  • When a fetus's tissues and organs accumulate excessive amounts of fluid, it is known as hydrops fetalis.

However, these complications are uncommon. Since the majority of adults and pregnant women have already contracted parvovirus B19, they are protected. When pregnant, there is a 2% chance of losing the fetus if you contract parvovirus B19. The risk of parvovirus B19 problems is highest in the second trimester of pregnancy, while they can occur at any stage of pregnancy.

Make an appointment with your healthcare practitioner if you are pregnant and you were exposed to someone who has the fifth disease.

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