One of my first trips to the doctor was for a rash all over my body. If my memory serves me correctly, I was in first or second grade. The rash lasted more than a week.
My mother thought I was having an allergic reaction to strawberry Pop-Tarts. I was in a “phase” and strawberry Pop-Tarts were the only thing I would eat for breakfast and my mid-day snack.
I stopped eating the Pop-Tarts for 24 hours and the rash was still all over my body.
My mom finally made a doctor’s appointment. I remember the doctor looking at my legs, arms and chest. He took my temperature and left the room for what seemed like an eternity.
He returned with more than half a dozen medical students who proceeded to look over my limbs. One female student said, “the joint swelling would suggest a possible diagnosis of the fifth disease.”
I remember being so excited because I wasn’t allergic to strawberry Pop-Tarts. But, I still had this thing called the fifth disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “the fifth disease is a mild rash illness caused by parvovirus B19. This disease is also called erythema infectiosum.”
The virus is spread through nasal mucus, saliva and sputum. The fifth disease is less common in adults than children.
You are generally ill for 4 to 20 days after you have been infected with the virus. More than 20 percent of those who are infected may not display any type of symptoms.
Symptoms for children include:
• Mild cold or flu-like symptoms
• A red rash on the cheeks (slapped cheeks rash), torso and limbs
• Rarely develop joint pain and swelling
Symptoms for adults include:
• Severe flu-like symptoms
• Rarely develop a rash
• Joint pain and swelling (hands, feet or knees)
• 10 percent of adults who develop joint pain will have prolonged, sometimes chronic, symptoms
Adult women are more than likely to develop point pain which will last up to 21 days. There have been cases where it lasts longer. However, the joint pain will eventually diminish and usually not leave any long-term health issues.
The disease general goes away on its own.