How much should I be concerned about Fifth Disease?


Q: A member of my family had Fifth Disease recently. He was at our Thanksgiving get together, as were other people who have been in contact with him including other kids. Since this disease can be dangerous to pregnant mothers, is highly contagious, and may not show any symptoms in adults, should I stay away from people in case I might be carrying Fifth Disease?

Symptoms:  None

A:   Thank you for your question. Erythema infectiousum (Fifth Disease) is a contagious viral infection that is caused by parvovirus B19. It commonly infects school aged children and is spread via droplets of body fluid particularly in saliva. In children it presents with a sudden bright red rash on the cheeks. It rarely infects adults with the exception of pregnant women especially in their first trimester. In this case, if a pregnant woman is infected with parvovirus B19, their is a slight risk of developing anemia or even having a miscarriage. You may have been exposed to the virus, but if you are not showing any symptoms then it is likely that you are not infected. However, it would be wise to avoid contact with any pregnant women for about 7-10 days to make sure that you are not carrying the virus.

Thank you for consulting

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