Fifth disease symptoms
Transmitted via coughs and sneezes like colds and flu, fifth disease shares some symptoms with other respiratory viruses: fever, sore throat, upset stomach, achy joints and headaches. There’s no need for treatment unless your child is uncomfortable, in which case you can use either acetaminophen or ibuprofen to ease aches and fever. In fact, before the distinctive rash erupts, there’s no way to tell fifth disease from any other virus, says Susanna Martin, a paediatrician in Saskatoon. (About 25 percent of people who get infected with Parvovirus B19 are only carriers and show no symptoms at all.)
Fifth disease rash and contagious period
Once the rosy-cheeked rash appears, the illness is typically no longer contagious, so there’s no need to exclude children from daycare or school, says Martin. Kids can show symptoms anywhere from four to 14 days after being exposed, and the body rash (which typically doesn’t itch) lingers between one to three weeks, sometimes clearing up only to reappear after a hot bath or physical activity. Despite his dramatic rash, Alex breezed through his illness. “He was fine. As long as he had ibuprofen or acetaminophen, he was comfortable,” Bloomfield says. “Compared to the flu, it was nothing.”
Fifth disease treatment
There is no vaccine to prevent the infection, nor is there any treatment for the average case. (Severe anemia—a complication that can arise in kids with blood disorders—is managed with blood transfusions.) The good news is that it’s a one-time thing—once you’ve been infected, you develop immunity and are very unlikely to catch it again.