Fifth disease (erythema infectiosum/slapped cheek syndrome) is a manifestation of an infection with parvovirus B19. The disease is also known as slapped cheek syndrome due to the characteristic rash it can produce on the cheeks of a patient. It is called fifth disease due to its place on the rash-causing childhood disease list. This infection is usually mild and can clear up by itself in a few weeks. For some, the infection can be more serious and medical advice should be sought if you are pregnant, have a weakened immune system or a blood disorder. It is most common in children although it can occur in any age.
Initial symptoms include a fever, runny nose, headache, nausea, malaise and a sore throat. The infection is contagious and in adults causes joint pain and stiffness. The characteristic slapped cheek rash becomes present after a few days and at this stage, the infection is not contagious. There may also be a rash on the torso and limbs after another few days.
The cause of fifth disease is parvovirus B19. This is a virus which is easily spread and can be caught from inhaling droplets from coughs and sneezes of an infected person, or by touching a contaminated object.
Fifth disease usually resolves by itself without significant medical intervention. Ensuring fluid intake and rest is important for a fast recovery. Paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used to reduce fevers and antihistamines can reduce the itchiness of the rashes that may be present. If you are pregnant, suffer from a blood disorder or have a compromised immune system, you should seek medical advice.
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Doctify Limited has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. In the event of an emergency, please call 999 for immediate assistance.