Slapped cheek disease is called fifth disease or erythema infectiosum. It is caused by the parvovirus B19 virus. It most commonly occurs in children aged 3-15 years, but anyone can be affected. The infectious period is for 4-20 days before the rash appears. By the time the rash develops, it is usually no longer infectious.
Typically, the rash looks like a bright red scald on one or both cheeks. It looks as if the cheek(s) have been slapped. Sometimes there is just a blotchy redness on the face. The rash is painless.Sometimes a more widespread faint rash appears on the body, arms, and legs. Occasionally, the rash on the face and body keeps fading and returning several times for up to several weeks. However, it is more common for the rash to come and go completely within a few days.
Although the rash can look quite dramatic, the illness itself is usually mild. Patient usually not feel too ill. Patient may have headache, sore throat, runny nose or mild temperature (fever) that last for a few days and occur around 7-10 days before the rash appears. Occasionally, mild pain and stiffness develop in one or more joints for a few days. This is more common in adults than in children.
You may have no symptoms
Around one in four people who become infected with this germ (virus) do not develop any symptoms at all. Some people just have a fever and feel generally unwell, without any rash.
This condition is usually diagnosed by the appearance of the classical rash on your cheeks.
A blood tests is sometimes performed. This will show if patient have the disease and can also show if patient have had this disease in the past. If patient have had the disease in the past then patient will be immune to it.
You do not usually need any treatment. If you have a headache, temperature (fever) or aches and pains then painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen will help.
Those people who develop complications (which is very rare) may require other treatment.
There is no vaccine or treatment that prevents this infection. Frequent hand washing reduces the risk of this infection been transmitted to other people.
There is no benefit of not going to school (or work) , as patient only infectious (able to pass it on) before patient develop the rash.
Most pregnant women are immune to this germ (virus), or will not be seriously affected if they become infected by it. However, the virus that causes slapped cheek disease can sometimes harm an unborn child. Miscarriage is more common in women who are infected with this virus before 20 weeks of pregnancy.
If any one develop a rash during your pregnancy or come into contact with a person with a rash then should seek medical advice. Doctor will usually arrange to have a blood test to see if have had slapped cheek disease in the past. If this is the case then can be reassured and will not need other tests or treatment.
However, if the test does not show that have had slapped cheek disease in the past, then may need to have other blood tests and also other tests – for example, a scan of your unborn baby to closely monitor baby’s growth