ThedaCare Health Matters By: P. Michael Shattuck, MD, Emergency Department phyisician
Recently, there has been some concern about a possible outbreak of Fifth disease in the community. The school nurse informed Michael Shattuck, MD—an emergency department physician at ThedaCare Medical Center-Berlin—that a number of cases were reported. Fifth disease is a contagious illness that primarily affects school-age children. It is generally a mild illness that resolves on its own and does not need any specific treatment. Fifth disease got its name because it was the fifth out of six childhood illnesses identified that cause rashes. The other illnesses were Rubella (German measles), regular measles, scarlet fever, chicken pox, and roseola. Interestingly, children are now routinely vaccinated for rubella, measles, and chicken pox, but not the others. Fifth disease is also known as erythema infectiosum or sometimes is referred to as slapped cheek disease or illness. Fifth disease is caused by a human parvovirus. You may be familiar with the parvovirus if you have dogs because canine parvovirus can cause severe illness in puppies and the vet will commonly vaccinate puppies against this virus. The specific virus that causes Fifth disease is human parvovirus 19.