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Fifth disease (Slapped cheek disease)

Fifth disease also known as 'slapped cheek disease' is a fairly mild viral illness. It gets its name from its most obvious symptom – a red rash that makes children’s cheeks look like they’ve been slapped.

Causes

Fifth disease or slapped cheek disease is a viral infection caused by parvovirus B19. Outbreaks generally happen in early spring. This virus is spread through personal contact or through coughing and sneezing. It most commonly affect primary school aged children.

Symptoms

The incubation period for slapped cheek disease is about two weeks - The infectious period is a few days before the rash appears (children are no longer contagious when the rash appears).

  • It begins with a fever, headache and runny nose.
  • A bright red rash, like the mark left by a slap, appears on the cheeks.
  • Over the next two to four days a lacy rash spreads to the trunk and limbs.
  • Children with blood disorders such as spherocytosis or sickle cell disease may become more anaemic. They should seek medical care.

What to do

  • Make sure your child rests and drinks plenty of fluids. 
  • Give them paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve the discomfort and fever.
  • Pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant should see their doctor or midwife as soon as possible if they come into contact with the infection or develop a rash.

Prevention

Parvovirus is most contagious during the incubation period, around two weeks before the onset of the rash or other symptoms. Your child isn’t usually contagious once the rash has appeared.

No vaccine is currently available for slapped cheek disease. Good hygiene and careful handwashing in childcare facilities and schools helps prevent spread of the disease, but there’s nothing else you can do to stop it spreading. There’s no need to keep your child home from childcare or school.

When to see the doctor

The virus can affect an unborn child. If you’re pregnant and you’ve become infected, or you’ve come into contact with someone with the virus, you should see your doctor immediately for blood tests and monitoring of your pregnancy.

Last reviewed: October 2016

Need more information?

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Found 15 results

Fifth disease - myDr.com.au

If your child (or you) has been unwell with what you think is the flu and later develops bright red cheeks, fifth disease may be the cause.

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Slapped cheek disease or fifth disease | Raising Children Network

Slapped cheek disease, also called fifth disease, is a mild viral illness, characterised by a red rash on the cheeks. You can usually treat it at home.

Read more on Raising Children Network website

Slapped cheek disease or Fifth disease (Parvovirus) | The Sydney Children's Hospitals Network

Slapped cheek disease is a viral disease. It gets this name because, early in the infection, the child's cheeks may be bright red, as if they have been slapped. Other names for this illness are Fifth disease (there used to be six childhood rashes recognised at the turn of the century and this was the fifth) and erythema infectiosum (Latin for infectious rash).

Read more on Sydney Children's Hospitals Network website

Parvovirus B19 infection (fifth disease, slapped cheek, slapped face, erythema infectiosum) - including symptoms, treatment and prevention :: SA Health

Parvovirus B19 infection (fifth disease, slapped cheek, slapped face, erythema infectiosum) is a mild illness but may be transmitted to the foetus

Read more on SA Health website

Parvovirus B19 and (Fifth Disease)

Parvovirus B19 infection is a mild rash illness that occurs most commonly in children. The ill child typically has a "slapped-cheek" rash on the face and a lacy red rash on the trunk and limbs. The child is not very ill, and the rash resolves in 7 to 10 days.

Read more on NSW Health website

Parvovirus B19 - Lab Tests Online AU

To determine if you have, or recently had, a parvovirus B19 infection if you are at increased risk of complications from this infectionWhen a pregnant woman has been exposed to someone with parvovirus B19; when a person, especially an person, has persistent or severe anaemiaA blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm for parvovirus B19 antibody testing; to detect the virus itself, the sample may be blood or, rarely, bone marrowParvovirus B19 is a that causes a common childhood illness, also called "fifth disease" or "erythema infectiosum

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Parvovirus (Slapped Cheek Syndrome) | Public Health

Read more on Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services website

Erythema infectiosum - ACD

Erythema infectiosum is usually a harmless childhood viral infection characterised by a classic slapped-cheek appearance or a lacy patterned rash. The infection can be associated with fevers.

Read more on Australasian College of Dermatologists website

Slapped cheek syndrome (Parvovirus)

Parvovirus B19, also known as slapped cheek syndrome, is a common childhood viral infection which produces a bright red rash on the cheeks (slapped

Read more on WA Health website

Childhood rashes - myDr.com.au

Distinguish between the childhood rashes of rubella (German measles), measles, chickenpox and fifth disease ('slapped cheek' disease).

Read more on myDr website

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