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Jacksonville doctor's offices seeing cases of fifth disease

Respiratory virus, which includes a red rash, more common in children

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Respiratory viruses are raging right now. But there’s one you may not have heard of. It’s called fifth disease. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, fifth disease is very common, more so in children than adults. Although it’s usually seen at the end of winter, near the beginning of spring, several area doctor's offices told News4Jax that they are seeing cases of it, especially in elementary school-age children, with the weird weather Jacksonville has been experiencing.

Dr. Harold Laski, at Southside Medical Center, said he often sees the highly contagious virus pop up in the fall.

“When school starts and it goes through and you have more contact and you will see it more and more often," he said. 

Laski said fifth disease is a respiratory virus. It spreads when someone coughs or sneezes and includes a red rash, which starts on the face and spreads to the rest of the body. It’s also known as "slapped cheek syndrome."

“If you look at the cheeks, it looks like someone slapped you," Laski said.

Other symptoms of fifth disease include fever, runny nose, headache, and joint pain and swelling. 

Fifth disease gets its name from being the fifth on the list of common skin rash illnesses in children. It’s caused by the parvovirus B-19.

"I know that’s scary because people are, like, 'Oh my, God. I got this from my dog or cat.' But no, it's a different parvovirus," Laski told News4Jax. "We can’t get what the dog has and the dog can’t get what the humans get.”

Although the virus is considered mild, it can be dangerous for those who have a compromised immune system and pregnant women who can pass the illness to their babies. 

“It’s really a concern for those who are not healthy, pregnant woman and even the fetus can get the parvo in utero and what the doctor will do then is observe and watch the fetus," Laski said. 

If fifth disease is an issue at your child's school, you will most likely get a letter sent home explaining what to do. Laski said there is no vaccine for fifth disease -- all you can do is treat the symptoms and let it run its course. The best prevention is good hygiene, getting good sleep and staying well hydrated.