Fifth Disease - Describe Your Experience

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What is "fifth disease"? What causes fifth disease?

Fifth disease is a viral illness caused by parvovirus B19. Fifth disease is also known as "erythema infectiosum" and "slapped cheek disease." The clinical illness was described in the 1880s and was named fifth disease because of its "fifth" position in the numerical classification of childhood illnesses associated with rashes (exanthems). Other numbered diseases included measles, scarlet fever, and rubella -- and these did not get renamed until the molecular era, when it became possible to isolate viruses and bacteria. Fifth disease was number five of six diseases named. It is a very common infection, and almost 50% of adults have been infected with the virus but do not remember having it because it often does not cause symptoms.

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See what others are saying

Comment from: christine, 35-44 Female (Patient) Published: April 01

Two of my daycare children came down with fifth disease, brother and sister. I was feeling very exhausted, could barely lift my arms to wash my hair and brush my teeth. One morning, about a week later, I woke up to severe rash covering my body. By that weekend, I was in so much pain and had gained 8 pounds of water weight in a 5 day span. I ended up in the emergency room (ER) to get help with the pain. The ER doctor told me that adults do not get this disease and told me I just had a virus. He did bloodwork, said I was fighting something and told me to see my doctor that week. On that Tuesday, I went to my family doctor, who did a new panel of bloodwork and found that I was severely anemic and vitamin D deficient. It's been 3 years now and I still don't have the health that I used to. My joints have been affected and still find I get exhausted very easily.

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Comment from: Annie, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: August 11

I just got positive diagnosis from blood work for fifth disease. I had my granddaughter visiting and she had a slight cold. A week or so after she left, I woke up with a bright red, hot face which lasted 12 hours. A few days later, I had flu-like symptoms, bad fatigue, painful joints (especially knees), very painful muscles in my legs and arms. My primary care physician did many blood tests and then remembered the red face so tested for parvovirus. I had it about 3 weeks and now feel pretty normal.

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