Fifth Disease



Fifth disease is caused by parvovirus B19. It is found in saliva, sputum, and mucus. It is spread from person to person through contact with these fluids.

It can also spread through blood. A pregnant woman who is infected can pass the virus to her baby.

Risk Factors

Fifth disease is more common in children. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at high risk of severe illness.

Other things that may raise the risk are:

  • Contact with an infected person
  • Jobs that require close contact with infected people, such as healthcare workers and teachers
  • Exposure to contaminated blood or blood products



Some people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have mild flu like symptoms, such as:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • A stuffy or runny nose

People may also have a bright red rash on their face. It may spread to the trunk, arms, and legs. Adults may also have joint pain and swelling.


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. You may be asked if you have had contact with anyone who has the infection.

Blood tests may be done to look for signs of parvovirus antibodies.



Most people get better on their own with rest. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems will need to be monitored closely for problems.

Supportive care during recovery may include:

  • Over the counter pain relievers
  • Corticosteroids to ease joint pain


The risk of viral infection may be lowered by:

  • Practicing proper handwashing
  • Covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Not touching the eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.