Parvovirus B19; Erythema infectiosum; Slapped cheek
Definition of Fifth disease
Fifth disease is an illness caused by a virus that leads to a rash on the cheeks, arms, and legs.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Fifth disease is caused by human parvovirus B19. It often affects preschoolers or school-age children during the spring. The disease is spread by contact with respiratory secretions and usually return for 5 days. However, the rash associated with fifth disease may return for several weeks. Return of the rash may be brought on by sunlight, heat, exercise, fever, or emotional stress.
Signs and tests
Fifth disease causes a very distinct rash. Your health care provider will examine the appearance and pattern of the rash. This is usually all that is needed to make a diagnosis.
No treatment is usually required for fifth disease in children. If fever or joint discomfort is present then oral acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) may be given.
Since this is a mild and generally benign viral infection, complete recovery can be expected.
Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 8/2/2009