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What is fifth disease?

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Quick Answer

According to the Centers for Disease Control, fifth disease is a rash caused by parvovirus B19. Also referred to as erythema infectiosum, fifth disease is common in children, and symptoms include a mild rash, fever, runny nose and headache.

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Full Answer

WebMD explains that fifth disease is commonly spread between school-age children during winter and spring. The illness was named fifth disease due to the fact that it is the fifth most recognized childhood rash. Fifth disease is a mild illness and is spread through droplets that enter the air through sneezing or coughing. It is also transmitted through blood.

According to Kids Health, fifth disease is most common in children between the ages of 5 and 15. In most cases, children recover quickly from the illness without complications. The rash that accompanies fifth disease first appears on the face and then spreads to the arms, trunk and legs. The rash is more common in children who are 10 years old or younger. Once the rash appears, the illness is no longer contagious. Additional symptoms include sore throat, red eyes, blisters and swollen glands. Adults and older children with fifth disease may also experience joint swelling in the hands, wrists or ankles.

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