Fifth Disease Treatment

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Fifth Disease Treatment: There is no treatment that will kill the virus that causes fifth disease (parvovirus B19); therefore, fifth disease treatment goals focus on treating fifth disease symptoms as the body fights the parvovirus. Fortunately, fifth disease is usually a mild illness.

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. . . Prevention
There is no vaccine for fifth disease, and no real way to prevent spreading the virus. Isolating someone with a fifth disease rash won't prevent spread of the infection because the person usually isn't contagious by that time.

. . . Complications
The majority of kids with fifth disease recover with no complications. By the time the rash appears and while it's present, they usually feel well and are back to their normal activities.

However, some children with weakened immune systems or with certain blood disorders (like sickle cell anemia or hemolytic anemia) may become significantly ill when infected with parvovirus B19. Parvovirus B19 can temporarily slow down or stop the body's production of the oxygen-carrying red blood cells, causing anemia.

When a child is healthy, this slowdown of red blood cell production usually goes unnoticed because it doesn't affect overall health. But some kids who are already anemic can become sick if their RBC production is further affected by the virus. The RBC levels may drop dangerously low, affecting the supply of oxygen to the body's tissues.

. . . When to Call the Doctor
Call the doctor if your child develops a rash, especially if the rash is widespread over the body or accompanied by other symptoms.

If you're pregnant and develop a rash or if you've been exposed to someone with fifth disease, call your obstetrician.

Fifth Disease Treatment

. . . Fever and Body Aches
For fever and body aches, a person can take acetaminophen (Tylenol®) or ibuprofen (marketed as Advil®, Motrin®, Nuprin®, and others). If a person under 20, he or she should not take aspirin unless the doctor approves it. In children and teens, aspirin taken for viral illnesses has been associated with the potentially fatal disease, Reye's syndrome.

. . . Joint Pain and Swelling
Joint pain and swelling in adults usually gets better without long-term disability. Fifth disease treatment for joint pain and swelling can include:

  • Rest
  • Limiting activities to a minimum
  • Taking medicines to relieve symptoms.

  • . . . More Serious Symptoms
    The few people develop severe anemia as the result of parvovirus B19 infection may need to be hospitalized and receive blood transfusions. People with immune system problems may need special medical care, including treatment with immune globulin which helps the body fight viruses, to help their bodies recover from the infection.


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