Fifth disease is usually not a serious infection, but it is quite common. Dr. Alvarado, can you tell us about fifth disease?
Sure, Dr. Connolly. Another name for fifth disease is erythema infectiosum, and it's caused by a virus called parvovirus B19. While most cases of fifth disease cause only mild illness, the infection can be very serious for children with certain blood disorders. Serious complications can also arise if a pregnant woman becomes infected and passes the virus to her baby.
It's not unusual to have outbreaks of parvovirus B19 infections in elementary and middle schools during late winter and early spring. The best way to reduce the risk of spreading fifth disease is to encourage your child to wash their hands frequently with soap and water, and to use instant hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available.