Does your child have fifths disease? Do you even know what that is? Well, I didn’t until my child contracted it a few weeks ago. If my friend had not advised me, I would have continued to think it was a sunburn and we were really doing a bad job applying sunscreen. That is until yesterday when more red spots appeared.
L’s symptoms started on her right cheek (see above) the very first week of camp with a red spot. I call it a spot but honestly it was really small and looked like she had a sunburn (or someone slapped her). I didn’t think much about it but three weeks later her spot increased to the other cheek and as of this morning it is on her chin, forehead, under the eyes and on her back and legs.
After speaking with our pediatrician, we learned that fifths disease a mild rash illness caused by parvovirus B19. It is more common in children than adults. About 20% of children and adults who get infected with this virus will not have any symptoms. This is what happened to L. When I researched online, she never had any of the symptoms other than the red spot on her cheek.
Fortunately, fifths disease is not contagious. Once you recover, you develop immunity that generally protects you from parvovirus B19 infection in the future. It seems very similar to a cold other than the terrible rash all over your body!
Important Facts about Fifths Disease
- Parvovirus B19 spreads through respiratory secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
- Must stay away from pregnant women
- No vaccine or medicine for prevention or treatment
- After several days you may get a red rash on your face
- Symptoms are fever, runny nose or headache – L had none of these
How to Treat Fifths Disease
- Not much according to our doctor. If there is no temperature or pain, they can continue their regular schedule. There is no vaccine or medicine that can prevent parvovirus B19 infection.
How to Avoid Fifths Disease
- washing your hands often 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
For more details about Fifths disease visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Has your child ever contracted fifths disease?