Fifth disease is a viral infection caused by parvovirus B19. The virus only infects humans; it’s not the same parvovirus that dogs and cats can get. Fifth disease mostly affects children. Symptoms can include a low fever, cold symptoms, and a headache. Then you get a red rash on your face. It looks like a “slapped cheek.” The rash can spread to the arms, legs, and trunk. Adults who get it might also have joint pain and swelling.
Fifth disease spreads easily, through saliva and mucus. You can get it when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Frequently washing your hands might help prevent getting the virus. Most people become immune to the virus after having it once.
Fifth disease is usually mild and goes away on its own. However, it can be serious if you
- Are pregnant
- Are anemic
- Have cancer or a weak immune system