Fifth disease is a rash illness caused by parvovirus B19. This virus infects humans only.
Fifth disease is a mild rash illness that occurs more commonly in children. A typical rash occurs on the face, giving the 'slapped-cheek' appearance. It may appear less commonly on other parts of the body such as limbs and trunk. The rash may be itchy and usually disappears in 7 - 10 days. Low-grade fever and tiredness often precedes the appearance of the rash.
In adults, the disease is even milder and may present as joint pain and swelling only.
A pregnant woman with parvovirus B19 infection can pass the virus to her baby, and may cause foetal death. It can also lead to severe anaemia in patients with low immunity (e.g. AIDS and leukaemia).
Mode of transmission
Parvovirus B19 is transmitted primarily through direct contact with respiratory secretions of infected patients. It can also be transmitted from mother to foetus during pregnancy, and through blood or blood products.
Incubation period is 4 - 20 days.
Fifth disease is usually a mild illness. No definite treatment is needed. Treatment usually involves relieving symptoms such as fever, itching, joint pain and swelling. Patients should rest at home until they fully recover.
Pregnant women, women preparing for pregnancy and other high-risk individuals who have close contact with patients of parvovirus B19 infection should consult doctor for further management.
Prevention1. Maintain good personal hygiene.