Fifth disease in children and pregnant women

Fifth disease is a fairly mild viral illness that makes children’s cheeks feel like they’ve been slapped.


Fifth disease is a viral infection caused by parvovirus B19 . Outbreaks usually occur in early spring. This virus is spread through physical contact or through coughing and sneezing. It most commonly affects school-age children.


The incubation period for fifth disease is about 4-20 days.

The infectious period is a few days before the rash appears. when the rash appears, children are no longer contagious.

Its symptoms:

  • fifth disease begins with fever, headache and runny nose;
  • a bright red rash appears on the cheeks, like the mark left by a slap;
  • over the next two to four days a rash spreads to the trunk and limbs;
  • children with blood disorders such as spherocytosis or sickle cell disease can become even more anemic.

What to do

If your son or daughter has fifth disease you should:

  • make sure he rests and drinks plenty of fluids;
  • evaluate together with the pediatrician whether to give him paracetamol or ibuprofen to relieve discomfort and fever.


Parvovirus is most contagious during the incubation period, about two weeks before the baby develops the rash or other symptoms. Your baby is usually not contagious once the rash appears.

There are currently no vaccines that protect against this disease. To prevent it, make sure that your son or daughter observes good hygiene and in particular washes their hands frequently, especially when they are at school, at the swimming pool, etc. Other than that, as a parent, there is nothing else you can do to stop it from spreading. No need to keep your child home from kindergarten or school.

Fifth disease in pregnancy

Women who are pregnant or 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. In rare cases, parvovirus can affect the unborn baby.

Katherine Johnson, M.D., is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist with clinical expertise in general obstetrics and gynecology, family planning, women’s health, and gynecology.

She is affiliated with the Obstetrics and Gynecology division at an undisclosed healthcare institution and the online platform,

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