Fifth disease (erythema infectiosum) is a common, mild childhood illness that causes a rash on the face, along with a low fever and sore throat. The rash is the most recognizable feature and is often called a “slapped cheek rash.”
Other symptoms include a runny nose and headache. The disease runs its course in a week or 2. Some people get a second rash that covers more of their body and can be itchy.
Most adults are immune to fifth disease, having caught it as children themselves. If you’re pregnant and don’t know whether you’re immune, tell your doctor that you may have been exposed.
When pregnant women catch the virus, their unborn babies aren’t usually affected. In rare cases, however, the virus can infect the fetus and cause complications.
If fifth disease is making the rounds at your child’s daycare, be sure that both of you wash your hands often. Try to avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes in places where the disease is circulating (easier said than done with a toddler!).
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