About Fifth's Disease in Adults


Fifth's disease is commonly known as "Slapped Face" disease, because one of its indicating symptoms is a bright red cheek, much like the appearance of having just been slapped. The Mayo Clinic also defines the disease as a parvovirus infection. The disease is considered the fifth of a group of formerly common childhood diseases. While more common in children, Fifth's disease can present in adults. Understanding the condition will prompt individuals to seek diagnosis and treatment, which will help to prevent complications, especially among women who are pregnant. In those very rare cases, according to the March of Dimes, anemia caused by interruption or disruption of red blood cell production may be acquired by the fetus, and if not addressed, lead to a possible miscarriage.


The reddened cheek common in Fifth's disease is also often accompanied by a low-grade fever and sore throat. Generally, the condition includes other common cold signs and symptoms including queasiness or nausea, complaints of headache and sometimes itching. After the appearance of the rash on the cheek, spread to other body parts is often noted on the arms, trunk and legs. The symptoms usually last about 7 to 10 days though adults may feel residual effects such as fatigue or sore joints for as long as two weeks.


Fifth's disease is caused by the human parvovirus called B19. It is not contracted by contact with animals but it is contagious among humans. Often, all that is required is hand contact. The contagious period is when the rash is present.


Diagnosis of Fifth's disease is generally made through an in-person examination with a physician, but may also be confirmed through blood tests that will show an increase in white blood cell activity due to the body's attempt to fight the virus caused by B19 parvovirus strain.


Fifth's disease is usually a mild illness that doesn't require direct medical treatment. However, for some individuals already diagnosed with chronic illness, such as sickle-cell or other types of anemia or immune system disorders, treatment may be needed to address symptoms of anemia. According to the Mayo Clinic, the treatment for anemia will be determined by the type of anemia that is presented. Vitamin or iron deficiency anemias are treated with vitamin or iron supplements while blood or hormone transfusions may be necessary for those suffering from chronic red blood cell deficiency. In most cases, Fifth's disease will resolve on its own, and in most cases the rash is fairly mild and doesn't require treatment. Some individuals with weakened immune systems may experience more severe rash or symptoms, in which case hospitalization may be required.


While there is no way you can absolutely protect yourself from Fifth's disease, it is suggested that hand washing is the best way to reduce chances of contracting the condition from children or other adults.

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