Fifth disease is a viral infection that most often happens in children. The infection can cause a mild rash on the face, trunk, arms, and legs.
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This problem is caused by a virus called parvovirus B19. It is found in saliva, sputum, and mucus. It is spread from person to person through contact with these fluids.
It can also spread through blood. A pregnant woman who is infected can pass the virus to her baby.
This problem is more common in children. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at high risk of severe illness.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
Some people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have mild flu-like symptoms, such as:
People may also have a bright red rash on their face. It may spread to the face, trunk, arms, and legs. Adults may also have joint pain and swelling.
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be asked if you have had contact with anyone who has the infection.
Blood tests may be done to look for signs of parvovirus antibodies.
Most people get better on their own with rest. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems will need to be monitored closely for problems.
Supportive care during recovery may include:
The risk of viral infection may be lowered by:
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
AboutKidsHealth—The Hospital for Sick Children
Fifth disease. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at: http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/bacterial_viral/fifth.html. Accessed March 5, 2021.
Fifth disease. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parvovirusB19/fifth-disease.html. Accessed March 5, 2021.
Parvovirus B19 infection. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/parvovirus-b19-infection. Accessed March 5, 2021.
Pregnancy and fifth disease. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parvovirusB19/pregnancy.html. Accessed March 5, 2021.
Qiu J, Söderlund-Venermo M, et al. Human Parvoviruses. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2017 Jan;30(1):43-113.
Last reviewed December 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD Last Updated: 3/5/2021