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Fifth Disease

Fifth disease is a mild illness caused by a virus called parvovirus B19. It is rarely serious. Its most obvious symptom is the bright red rash or “slapped cheek” look of the face. The disease occurs most often during the late winter and early spring in children between the ages of 4 and 10. However, older children and adults, especially females, can get it.

Fifth disease is a mild rash illness caused by parvovirus B19. It is more common in children than adults. A person usually gets sick with fifth disease within 14 days after getting infected with parvovirus B19. This disease, also called erythema infectiosum, got its name because it was fifth in a list of historical classifications of common skin rash illnesses in children.

There is no vaccine or medicine that can prevent parvovirus B19 infection. You can reduce your chance of being infected or infecting others by:

  • washing your hands often, for at least 20 seconds, with soap and water
  • covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • staying home when you are sick

Once you get the rash, you are probably not contagious. So, it is usually safe for you to go back to work or for your child to return to school or a child care center.

Fifth Disease is not a reportable disease in Oklahoma.

Fifth disease is usually mild and will go away on its own. Children and adults who are otherwise healthy usually recover completely. Treatment usually involves relieving symptoms, such as fever, itching, and joint pain and swelling.

People who have complications from fifth disease should see their healthcare provider for medical treatment.