Fifth Disease (Parvovirus B19) in Babies

5th disease in children

Fifth disease, also called erythema infectiosum, is usually not a severe infection. Its most significant symptom is an intense red spot or rash on your child’s cheeks. It is triggered by an infection called parvovirus B19 and can be spread out from one person to another through droplets or secretions (eg, saliva, sputum). It can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. The infection can cause major health problem in a fetus or in any child who has a specific kind of anemia (low red cell count) such as sickle cell anemia.

Outbreaks of parvovirus B19 infections take place from time to time in elementary and intermediate schools during the late winter and early spring months.

Fifth Disease Symptoms in Babies

In the initial stages of fifth disease, your child may establish moderate cold-like symptoms consisting of a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, mild fever, muscle pain, itching, fatigue, and headaches. Less typically, your child might experience pains in the knees or wrists.

After 7 to 10 days of these first symptoms, the distinctive rash of fifth disease may appear. It generally starts on the face, offering the child a “slapped cheek” appearance. A somewhat raised rash in a lacelike pattern may establish on the torso and after that spread to the arms, butts, and thighs. Five to 10 days later, the rash will tend to fade. It might come back briefly weeks or months later on, especially when your child becomes hot while exercising, bathing, or sunbathing.

Parvovirus infections can make sickle cell anemia and other hemolytic anemias, much even worse. This issue might cause an aplastic crisis where blood counts drop to dangerously low levels. This can occur to the fetus when a pregnant female has a parvovirus infection. The fetus can develop heart failure associated to the low blood counts. This condition is called hydrops fetalis and can cause fetal death. Transfusions are typically required in the fetus or child with aplastic crisis.

5th disease in children
5th disease in baby (image)

The incubation duration from exposure to the virus to the start of symptoms generally ranges from 4 to 14 days. The rash appears 2 to 3 weeks after your child becomes infected. Once the rash is present, your child will not be contagious.

When to call the doctor

If your child’s symptoms seem to get worse with time or if she establishes joint swelling, call your pediatrician. If your child has sickle cell disease, contact your doctor whenever your child gets a fever or appears specifically pale.


Your pediatrician will detect fifth disease by analyzing the rash, which has a distinct appearance. In many cases, your doctor will carry out a blood test that can spot antibodies to parvovirus B19.

Let your pediatrician know about any medications your child may be taking because the rash related to fifth disease can look like rashes that are side effects of specific drugs.

Fifth Disease Treatment in Kids

Many children with fifth disease are treated just with symptomatic care to make them feel more comfy. If a fever is present, your pediatrician might advise acetaminophen to decrease the temperature along with to decrease the strength of any pains and pains that become part of the disease. Your pediatrician also might advise utilizing antihistamines to eliminate any itching related to the rash. In children with major anemias, hospitalization and blood transfusions are frequently needed.


The majority of children infected with parvovirus B19 have just a moderate illness that goes away by itself. However, children with blood conditions such as sickle cell anemia or a weakened body immune system can end up being seriously ill if they establish fifth disease and ought to be seen by a doctor instantly. The infection can also be serious if it is contracted by pregnant women. Fifth disease can lead to severe complications such as damage to the fetus, miscarriages, or stillbirths.

Fifth Disease Prevention

To reduce the risk of spreading out fifth disease in babies, great hygiene is very important, consisting of regular hand washing.

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