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Fifth Disease

Fifth Disease is not a reportable disease in Oklahoma; however, the Oklahoma State Department of Health investigates outbreaks of Fifth Disease to control the spread of this disease.  Fifth disease is a mild viral illness caused by the human parvovirus B19.  Fifth disease is a mild rash illness that primarily affects young children.  Fifth disease has been shown to cause serious health problems during pregnancy and can cause severe anemia, especially in immunocompromised individuals.  The virus is spread mostly through direct contact with respiratory droplets when infected people cough or sneeze.

Symptoms of fifth disease include low grade fever, tiredness and a red rash that generally appears on the cheeks, giving a “slapped face” appearance spreading to the arms and legs.  The rash may then spread to the rest of the body.  Sometimes the rash looks “lacy” and may itch.  The rash fades and may recur for up to three weeks with exposure to sunlight or to heat while bathing.  Some children may have no symptoms at all.  Adults with fifth disease may not have a rash, but may develop joint pain or swelling that lasts from a week to several months.

People with fifth disease appear to be contagious during the week prior to the appearance of the rash. By the time the rash is evident, the person is probably beyond the contagious period. People who are immunosuppressed or who have certain anemias may be contagious for a longer period.

Good hygiene habits prevent and reduce the transmission of fifth disease including:

  • Covering your mouth and nose with a disposable tissue when sneezing or coughing.
  • Disposing of tissues properly.
  • Washing hands frequently and
  • Using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if hands are not visibly soiled.

Fifth Disease Fact Sheets and Information:

Fifth Disease Fact Sheet (37kb)

External Fifth Disease Resources:

Fifth Disease (CDC)

Fifth Disease and Pregnancy (CDC)

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