Fifth Disease In Children And Adults

What is fifth disease?

The fifth disease is a disease of childhood, which is also referred to as erythema infectiosum. It is caused by parvovirus B19. The incubation period is seven to twelve days. Approximately 60% of adults are protected from the disease, because they have been through all of this in the past. The symptoms are quite innocent.

Symptoms of fifth disease

The child is small and large spots together, sometimes slightly elevated above the normal skin and bright red color, first in the face, then on buttocks, arms, legs and torso. The skin glows and feels warm. The spots may itch. The child may be cranky and have slight increase. Spots fade in four to six days. Usually the child is rarely ill. The child also gets regular joints at wrists, back and knees. The red spots can provide an intense burning sensation from the inside, for which analgesics can be given. Causative treatment is not possible. The result is five to nine days away again, but under the influence of heat, cold, exertion or stress returning. Adults can survive the disease if this did not happen in childhood. The complaints are especially arthritis, often in the fingers. This gives rise to symptoms similar to arthritis of the hands and may persist for months.

The disease can - even doctors - are easily confused with other illnesses spot. Security is given only by paired serology. These antibodies will be measured from the IgM and IgG class. IgG antibodies indicate an infection in the past, IgM antibodies fit with a manifest infection. This research is mainly performed during pregnancy, but also in the diagnosis of arthritis.

 which is also referred to as erythema infectiosum Fifth Disease In Children And Adults


The disease can be as epidemic and persist for some time. The virus spreads through tiny moisture droplets from the nose and throat of the sick child, floating through the air.

The carrier is contagious in the week prior to the disease. After this, no more. The incubation period is approximately ten days. The disease often goes unnoticed.

  • The school the child is informed. The school will usually report the illness to the GGD (Netherlands) or the CLB (Belgium) to determine further action.
  • The school will be staying ventilate rooms where the sick child to avoid further contamination.
  • Because the infection has already occurred at the time that the disease manifests itself, it is difficult to take preventive measures (but see below in case of pregnancy).
  • Ensure clean hands.
  • Against the itching mentholgel may be used.

Fifth disease pregnancy

For pregnant women who have not had the disease (so do not have antibodies to parvovirus) the disease to the fetus can be fatal. In the first quarter of the increased risk of miscarriage. For infection of the fetus later in pregnancy can cause severe fetal anemia (by inhibiting the production of blood) with high risk of death of the child. Treatment is possible by the administration of an intra-uterine transfusion.
On suspicion of infection during pregnancy can be checked in the maternal blood or immunity already existed or that there is a recent infection. In the latter case, there is an indication in order to eight weeks after onset of the infection weekly ultrasound examinations aimed to gain characteristics of fetal anemia. When suspecting this usually takes direct reference to the maternity ward (prenatal diagnosis and fetal therapy) of a university hospital.

Fifth disease in adults

As described above, the fifth disease can also occur in adults. The disease occurs mainly in joints and can last several weeks or even years.

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