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Common Signs of Common School Ailments

Fifth Disease (Erythema Infectiosum)

This viral illness is caused by the human parvovirus B19. It often causes a characteristic bright red rash on the face. It is also sometimes referred to as "slapped cheek" because of this rash. It is fairly common in children. In fact, it received its name because it was fifth in a list of historical classifications of common skin rash illnesses in children. Approximately 50 percent of all adults had this infection as a child and won't get it again.
 
In some cases, children who become infected with this virus will not have any symptoms. However, if symptoms do appear, they are usually mild and may include:
 
 
After several days, a "slapped cheek" rash may appear on the face. This is the most identifiable symptom of this infection. Some children may develop a second rash a few days later on their chest, back, buttocks, or extremities (arms and legs). In some cases, the rash may be itchy.
 
Although this rash may last for several weeks, it usually goes away in 7 to 10 days. As the rash improves, it may have a lacy look to it. There is no vaccination currently available that can prevent this infection. It is usually most contagious 7 to 10 days before the rash appears. Once the rash appears, the person is no longer contagious. Try to keep the child away from pregnant women who have never had fifth disease, as it can cause problems during pregnancy.
 
Treatment usually includes acetaminophen and ibuprofen to help relieve fever, itching, joint pain, and swelling. However, symptoms are usually mild and will go away on their own.
 
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