The front of 5th Street School on a sunny day.

ERYTHEMA INFECTIOSUM (FIFTH DISEASE)


Erythema Infectiosum (Fifth Disease) is usually a mild infection which is caused by a human parovirus (B19).  It is characterized by a facial rash ("slapped-cheek" appearance) and a lacelike rash on the trunk and extremities.  Reddening of the skin may fade and reoccur due to nonspecific stimuli such as temperature or sunlight.  Low-grade fever and mild systemic symptoms may be seen.  Transmission occurs primarily by contact with infected respiratory secretions.  In patients with certain red blood cell abnormalities (such as sickle cell disease and auto-immune hemolytic anemia), parovirus B19 infection can cause an aplastic crisis.  Infection with the virus can also result in chronic anemia in some immunodeficient  persons.  Infection during pregnancy carries a small risk of fetal death.


INCUBATION PERIOD:
From 4 to 14 days, but can be as long as 20 days.


PERIOD OF COMMUNICABILITY:
Persons with Fifth Disease appear to be contagious during the week prior to the appearance of the rash.  By the time the rash appears, they are probably no longer infectious.


CONTROL OF DISEASE:
1.  No measures are available to control the spread.  During an outbreak, those individuals at risk for complications should consult a physician for advice.
2.  There is no specific treatment.
 

 

FUTURE PREVENTION:
This is generally not possible because the greatest risk of transmitting the virus occurs before symptoms develop.  However, persons in aplastic crisis are probably contagious for one week after onset of symptoms or longer and should be excluded from school.


HEALTH EDUCATION:
The decision to try to decrease any person's risk of infection by avoiding a workplace or school environment in which an outbreak of the virus is occurring should be made by the person after a discussion with family members, their physician, public health officials, and school officials.  Routine exclusion of pregnant women from the school even during outbreak is not recommended.  Current recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control should be consulted for current recommendations.