Cause and Prevention of Fifth Disease/ Parvovirus B19/Erythema Infectiosum/ Slapped Cheek

Cause and Prevention of Fifth Disease/ Parvovirus B19/Erythema Infectiosum/ Slap

Fifth disease is caused by human parvovirus B19.Fifth disease, so-called because it was the fifth red-rash childhood disease to be identified, is generally a mild illness that most commonly affects preschool and school-age children during the spring.. It's also sometimes referred to as "slapped cheeks disease" because of the telltale red facial rash that infected children commonly develop.


The disease is spread by contact with respiratory secretions and usually lasts for five days. However, the rash associated with fifth disease may recur for several weeks. Recurrences may be brought on by exposure to sunlight, heat, exercise, fever, or emotional stress.

Once a child recovers from parvovirus infection, he or she develops lasting immunity, which means that the child is protected against future infection.The first sign of the disease noticed by parents is usually bright red cheeks, which look as though the child has been recently slapped on both sides of the face. Following this, a rash appears on the extremities and trunk. The rash fades from the center outwards, giving it a lacy appearance. Over a period of 1-2 weeks, the rash disappears entirely. This illness is also sometimes associated with fever.

An adult who has not previously been infected with parvovirus B19 can be infected and become ill, and develop a rash, or joint pain or swelling, or both. The joint symptoms usually resolve in a week or two, but they may last several months.It inhibits the production of red blood cells. For otherwise healthy adults and children, a temporary halt in the production of new cells isn't a problem because the illness usually doesn't last longer than most of the red blood cells they already have circulating. But for people with chronic anemia (from a condition such as sickle cell disease) or an immune deficiency, and for a relatively small number of unborn babies, the virus can cause serious problems.However,the majority of adults seem to have antibodies to parvovirus B19 in their bodies. This indicates that most people have been exposed to the virus, and also suggests that many infections go unnoticed.

Parvovirus B19 is a virus that commonly infects humans; about 50% of all adults have been infected sometime during childhood or adolescence. Parvovirus B19 infects only humans. There are also animal parvoviruses, but they do not infect humans. Therefore, a person cannot catch parvovirus B19 from a dog or cat.

The infection is mainly spread through nsaliva and nasal secretions. So you can catch it by being near an infected person who coughs or sneezes; by kissing; by sharing eating utensils or drinking glasses; or by hand-to-mouth contact.

Parvovirus can also be transmitted in blood, so if you get it during pregnancy, it may infect your baby through the placenta. In a small percentage of cases, the infection ends up causing problems that may result in the loss of the baby. There's about a 50 percent chance, though, that you've already had fifth disease and thus are immune to parvovirus, in which case you have minimal risk of getting infected and passing it on to your baby.

However,fifth disease is usually a mild illness. It resolves without medical treatment among children and adults who are otherwise healthy. Joint pain and swelling in adults usually resolve without long-term disability. During outbreaks of fifth disease, about 20% of adults and children are infected without getting any symptoms at all.

If you think you've been exposed. (Don't wait to see if you develop symptoms.)Your doctor will draw blood and have it checked for parvovirus antibodies, which will help her determine whether you're immune, have recently been infected, or neither. Depending on the results, you may need to repeat the blood test in one to four weeks.If your baby continues to look well and hasn't developed any problems after several months, try not to worry — it's highly unlikely that a parvovirus-related problem will develop later.

There is no vaccine or medicine that prevents parvovirus B19 infection.It's hard to avoid exposure, since people are contagious before they have signs of illness (and some have no symptoms at all). Still, you can reduce your risk of getting parvovirus, as well as some other infectious diseases, by following these guidelines:

Excluding persons with fifth disease from work, child care centers, schools, or other settings is not likely to prevent the spread of parvovirus B19, since ill persons are contagious before they develop the characteristic rash. CDC does not recommend that pregnant women should routinely be excluded from a workplace where a fifth disease outbreak is occurring,rather,recommanded to stay away from a workplace where there are cases of fifth disease is an personal decision for a woman to make, after discussions with her family, physician, and employer.

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