Saturday, 6 January 2018

Causes Of Fifth Disease (Erythema Infectiosum) + Prevention


Fifth disease is a viral infection caused by parvovirus B19. The virus only infects humans; it's not the same parvovirus that dogs and cats can get. Fifth disease mostly affects children. Symptoms can include a low fever, cold symptoms, and a headache. Then you get a red rash on your face. It looks like a "slapped cheek." The rash can spread to the arms, legs, and trunk. Adults who get it might also have joint pain and swelling.

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Fifth disease spreads easily, through saliva and mucus. You can get it when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Frequently washing your hands might help prevent getting the virus. Most people become immune to the virus after having it once. The human parvovirus B19 is the culprit here. It's unclear what causes the virus to appear but it's no mystery how your child catches it. "It's mainly passed from person to person through respiratory secretions, such as saliva.
Around 5% of children and about half of adults with fifth disease experience joint aches and pains. This arthritis or arthropathy is more common in females than males, is usually temporary, lasts days to weeks, and may become a long-term problem for months. People with arthritis from fifth disease usually have stiffness in the morning, with redness and swelling of the same joints on both sides of the body ("symmetrical" arthritis). The joints most commonly involved are the knees, fingers, and wrists.

Causes Of Fifth Disease

Parvovirus B19 causes fifth disease. The virus tends to spread through saliva and respiratory secretions among children who are in elementary school. It’s most prevalent in the winter and spring, but it can spread at any time and among people of any age.
Many adults have antibodies that prevent them from developing fifth disease because of previous exposure during childhood. However, when people do become infected as adults, the symptoms can be severe. If you get fifth disease while pregnant, there are serious risks, including life-threatening anemia , for your unborn baby. For children with healthy immune systems, fifth disease is a common, mild illness that rarely presents lasting consequences.


The virus is thought to spread via droplets in the air (respiratory secretions transmitted by
coughs and sneezes) or by blood from other infected people. Early during the illness, nasal secretions contain the viral DNA. Blood has been found to contain viral particles as well as DNA. The virus is capable of crossing the placenta and affecting the fetus if a pregnant women becomes infected.

Ways Of Prevention
To limit the spread of fifth disease among children at home or in a child-care setting, take the following steps:

  • Wash hands often, especially after wiping or blowing noses and before preparing or eating food.
  • Do not share food, pacifiers, bottles, eating utensils, or drinking cups.
  • If toys tend to end up in tots' mouths, clean and disinfect them often.
  • Don't kiss children on the mouth. 
  • Play outdoors as much as possible. It's easier for the virus to spread indoors where people are likely to be in closer contact.
  • Make sure children are not crowded together, especially during nap time.
  • Teach children to cough or sneeze into a tissue (which should be thrown away immediately) or the inside of their elbow (which is less likely than their hands to spread the virus) and away from other people.
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Children with fifth disease generally do not need to be excluded from day care as they are unlikely to be contagious after the rash appears and a diagnosis has been made.


Author: Richard Smith