Can Fifth Disease Cause Arthritis Pain?

Last Editorial Review: 1/11/2018

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Hello, recently I have developed all of the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. I have seen a doctor and had blood work done. My RF factor was indeed high. The doctor put me on Celebrex, which seems to be helping. I have serious doubts about this diagnosis from my primary care physician. Soon I am to see a rheumatologist. I have a theory of my own and need some reassurance. My seven year old daughter developed a rash that came and went in two days. No other symptoms were noticed. Two days later, I also developed the same rash all over my body, lacey red, not itchy. However, I developed these joint pains and stiffness almost immediately and it has been present ever since. Reading the articles on Fifth Disease makes me wonder if this could be the cause of my arthritis pain. The doctor said adults couldn't get this disease and dismissed the possibility almost right away. If you have any information on this possible link, I would greatly appreciate it.

Doctor's Response:

Adults can and do, in fact, become infected with the virus that causes Fifth disease in children. The virus is called parvovirus.

In children, it causes a lacey or blotchy rash of the trunk and/or extremities and redness of the cheeks that looks like "slapped cheeks." The condition may have associated aching of muscles and joints similar to the flu and usually resolves in days.

In adults, the flu-like symptoms are often more severe and the condition is called parvovirus infection, not Fifth disease. They typically do not get a rash of the face, but can have the lacey rash of the body. Joint pains are common when adults get parvovirus. The joint pain usually resolves in weeks, but 10% of patients can have a more prolonged arthritis that does mimic rheumatoid arthritis. The rheumatoid factor blood test is usually negative, but can be positive. The treatment involves medications that reduce inflammation in the joints.

Parvovirus is very contagious. One a person is infected, they become immune to further infection. The virus can be diagnosed by blood testing for parvovirus B19 antibodies.

Thank you for your question.


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