Pediatric Parvovirus B19 (Fifth Disease)

Pediatric Parvovirus B19 (Fifth Disease)

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Summary

Parvovirus B19 causes the mild rash illness known as fifth disease.

Expanded overview

If a child comes into contact with parvovirus B19, they may develop fifth disease. Fifth disease is a mild rash illness that is more common in children than it is in adults. In most cases, a child who encounters the virus usually gets sick within four to 14 days. It is named fifth as it was the fifth in a list of common rashes in children.

Though most children who contract this virus recover fairly easily, sometimes there are lingering effects. Some children with fifth disease – especially those with a weakened immune system – may develop anemia [link to Anemia page in Primary Care section], which requires medical treatment.

Causes

Parvovirus B19 is spread through contact with the saliva of an infected person. This means a child can contract the virus by being in close proximity to someone with the infection who sneezes or coughs. 

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of fifth disease include:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Pain and swelling in the joints
  • Rash – especially a red rash on the face
  • Runny nose

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