Fifth disease

  • Alternative Names

    Parvovirus B19; Erythema infectiosum; Slapped cheek

    • Rash
      • First appears on the cheeks, often looks like "slapped cheeks"
      • Spreads to the arms and legs about 1 day later, often has a "lacy" appearance
    • Fever
    • Joint pain
    • Temporary anemia -- this is only serious if the patient has a immune system problem and some other, existing form of anemia

    Signs and tests

    Fifth disease causes a very distinct rash. Your health care provider will examine the appearance and pattern of the rash. This is usually all that is needed to make a diagnosis.

    Blood tests that look for antibodies against parvovirus B19 may indicate infection. However, these tests are usually not needed, although they may be helpful in the diagnosis of aplastic crisis and persistent anemia.

    Testing may also be done when there is a question of whether a pregnant woman has been exposed to the virus.