Fifth disease, also known as erythema infectiosum, is a contagious viral infection that is most common in school-age children. The disease produces a rash on the face and body of those who have it.
The feature that sets fifth disease apart from other types of rashes, such as rubella or scarlet fever is the distinctive, sudden appearance of bright red cheeks, commonly referred to as a “slapped cheek” rash. This can followed by a second rash a few days later on the chest, back, buttocks, arms and legs. The rash may be itchy, especially on the soles of the feet. It can vary in intensity and usually goes away in seven to 10 days, but it can come and go for several weeks.
Other symptoms of fifth disease are usually mild and may include:
- Runny nose
- Pain and swelling in the joints
Fifth disease is transmitted from person to person by respiratory secretions, such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The incubation period is usually four to 14 days, but can be as long as 21 days. Those with fifth’s disease are most contagious when symptoms resemble that of a fever or a cold. By the time a rash appears they are no longer contagious.
There is no vaccine or medicine that can prevent fifth disease. You can reduce your chance of being infected or infecting others by:
- Washing your hands often with soap and water
- Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
- Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
- Staying home when you are sick
Treatment for fifth disease typically involves taking over the counter medications to relieve symptoms, such as fever, itching, and joint pain.
To make an appointment at Jamaica Hospital’s Pediatric Ambulatory Care Center, please call 718-206-7001.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.