Fifth disease, also called erythema infectiosum, is usually not a serious infection. Its most notable symptom is a bright red patch or rash on your child's cheeks. It is caused by a virus called parvovirus B19 and can be spread from one person to another through droplets or secretions (eg, saliva, sputum). It can also be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. The virus can cause serious illness in a fetus or in any child who has a certain type of anemia (low red blood cell count) such as sickle cell anemia.

Outbreaks of parvovirus B19 infections occur from time to time in elementary and middle schools during the late winter and early spring months.

In the initial stages of fifth disease, your child may develop mild cold-like symptoms including a stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, mild fever, muscle soreness, itching, fatigue, and headaches. Less commonly, your...

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