Fifth Disease (Parvovirus Infection)

This is a viral infection that often causes a rash on the cheeks. It's most common in children, but the virus can infect adults, too.


Fifth disease is caused by the parvovirus B19. It only infects people, and it spreads easily from one person to another. The virus is carried in droplets from coughs and sneezes. It can also spread through blood, and from an infected pregnant woman to her unborn child.


What are the symptoms? An infection can cause fever, headache, upset stomach and a runny nose. Most children who have fifth disease get a mild red rash on the cheeks. Some say it looks like their cheeks have been slapped. A few days later, they may get an itchy rash on other parts of their body. Fifth disease can also cause joint pain and swelling. But not all people have symptoms. You can have an infection and have no symptoms at all.

Prevention and treatment

We prevent this infection with proper hand washing, and by covering your nose and mouth when you sneeze and cough. Stay away from infected people. If you have an infection, stay home. An infection is treated at home with rest and fluids. Most people recover on their own with no long-term problems. For more information, talk to your doctor.