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What is Fifth Disease?

Fifth disease is caused by the virus Parvovirus B19. Symptoms may begin 4 to 20 days after you are exposed to someone who is infected. It's most contagious before the development of the rash.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Signs and symptoms are often seen 4 to 20 days after exposure and include:

  • A low-grade fever before cold-like symptoms 7 to 10 days before rash appears.
  • A rash that begins as a solid red area on cheeks (like a slapped cheek), spreading to upper arms, legs, trunk, hands, and feet.
  • The rash may reappear 1 to 3 weeks later, if exposed to sunlight or heat (e.g. bathing).

How is it spread?

Fifth disease can be spread:

  • By breathing in contaminated air, from sneezing, coughing, and speaking.
  • By touching contaminated hands, surfaces, or objects (such as drinking cups and utensils).

How long is it contagious?

Fifth disease is contagious  for 2 days before the rash appears. 

Should I see a health care provider?

Yes, contact your health care provider if you think you or your child has fifth disease and you're pregnant.