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Fifth Disease

Fifth Disease


Everything you need to know
about Fifth Disease
Slapped Cheek Syndrome

Fifth illness, also known as erythema infectiosum, is a contagious viral infection that affects children of school age. It’s most prevalent throughout the winter and spring.

When it was the fifth on a list of six identified childhood rash-forming disorders many years ago, it was given the name Fifth Disease. Rubella, measles, scarlet fever, chickenpox, and roseola infantum are among the others.

Symptoms of Fifth Disease

A sudden, bright red rash across the cheeks that looks like the child has been slapped is the most well-known symptom of the fifth disease. Slapped-cheek sickness is another name for it. In both newborns and adults, the condition is extremely rare.

The rash usually emerges a week to ten days following symptoms that are comparable to the common cold, such as:

  • Nose congestion or runny nose
  • Throat irritation
  • Fever (mild)
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint discomfort (more common in adults)


The rash is frequent enough for a GP to diagnose the fifth disease. They may perform a blood test to look for antibodies to the disease-causing virus. This isn’t a typical test. It’s normally only done in specific circumstances, such as when you’re pregnant.


Parvovirus B19 causes the fifth disease. Only humans are infected by this parvovirus. Dogs and cats can be infected with other strains of the virus.


For otherwise healthy children and adults, the fifth disease is usually minor and provides minimal health risk.

However, in certain people, it might lead to chronic anaemia. It’s possible that you’ll need a blood transfusion, which will need a hospital stay. If you catch the infection during the first half of your pregnancy, you have a 10% chance of miscarriage and a tiny chance of your baby developing severe anaemia.

If you have a weaker immune system, you’re more prone to get significant problems from any disease. Leukaemia and other malignancies, HIV infection, and organ transplants are among conditions that might decrease your immune system.

When to call a doctor

If your child gets a rash, contact your GP immediately, especially if the rash is broad or accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, cold symptoms, or joint discomfort.

Call your doctor if you get a rash while pregnant or if you’ve been exposed to someone who has the fifth disease (or anyone who has an unusual rash).

It’s a good idea to phone your doctor first or call 111. They will be able to advise you on what to do next.


The purpose of treatment for the fifth disease is to alleviate symptoms and make you or your child more comfortable. The virus that causes the fifth disease has no specific treatment. Your doctor may advise you to:

Paracetamol is used to treat fevers and muscle aches and pains.

Antihistamines help relieve itching caused by the rash.


Is it Possible to Prevent the Fifth Disease? There is no vaccination to prevent the fifth disease, and there is no practical way to stop the virus from spreading because a person is usually not contagious when the rash begins. It’s always a good idea to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently because it can help avoid the transmission of numerous ailments.


When a person with the fifth disease coughs or sneezes, respiratory droplets enter the air and spread the sickness. Adults who work with young children, such as child care providers, teachers, and health care workers, are the most vulnerable.

Children are no longer contagious by the time the rash starts and can return to school or daycare. The incubation period (the time between infection and the appearance of signs or symptoms of sickness) is typically 4-14 days, although it can last up to 21 days.


What is the prognosis (prognosis) for those suffering from the fifth disease? Children and adults who are healthy have a better chance of recovering from the fifth disease without complications. People who have the fifth disease are usually immune to it. As a result, getting the fifth disease more than once is improbable.