What is fifth disease?

Fifth disease, or “slapped cheek” disease, results in a rash that causes the face to turn bright red, as if slapped. The rash also can appear on the arms and legs. It is common among children who are pre-school or school age. It also can appear in adults.

The disease has no lasting effects in healthy children, but may cause problems in pregnant women and people who have weak immune systems.

What causes fifth disease?

A virus called parvovirus B19 causes the disease. The disease spreads through the fluids in the nose and mouth when someone coughs or sneezes.

What are the symptoms of fifth disease?

In some people with fifth disease, there are no symptoms at all. Around 20% of people who get fifth disease do not have symptoms. However, the disease can cause a rash on the cheeks that is bright red. The rash also may appear on the arms and legs. It disappears within two weeks. Other symptoms include:

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