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Fifth Disease in Children

Fifth disease occurs most commonly in children. The symptoms of fifth disease in children include a rash on the face that resembles a slapped cheek and a lacy, red rash on the trunk, arms, and legs. Before the appearance of the rash that characterizes fifth disease in children, early signs of the illness may include low-grade fever, chills, and body aches. Transmission of fifth disease in children most likely occurs through direct contact with respiratory secretions of infected people. Treatment of fifth disease involves managing the symptoms of the illness while the body fights the infection.

Fifth Disease in Children: An Introduction

Fifth disease is a mild illness, caused by parvovirus B19, that occurs most commonly in children. The illness is commonly characterized by a rash on the face that resembles a slapped cheek.

Transmission of Fifth Disease in Children

The virus that causes fifth disease (parvovirus B19) has been found in the respiratory secretions (saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus) of infected people before the onset of the rash, when they still appear to "just have a cold." Fifth disease transmission probably occurs from child to child, by direct contact with those secretions, such as sharing drinking cups or utensils.
Fifth disease infections can occur year-round, but they are more common during winter and spring months.
Excluding children with fifth disease from childcare centers or schools is not likely to prevent the spread of the virus, since children are contagious before they develop the rash.

Incubation Time for Fifth Disease in Children

When a child becomes infected with the parvovirus, the virus begins to multiply within the body. After 4 to 14 days (but as long as 20 days), fifth disease symptoms can begin. The period between becoming infected and the start of fifth disease symptoms is called the fifth disease incubation period.
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Information on Fifth Disease

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