What's Going Around: Fifth disease

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A viral illness with several names: fifth disease, slapped-cheek fever or erythema infectiosum. Whichever name you use, it is What's Going Around this week.

Parents in Hilliard received notification from their elementary school administrators. It is a highly contagious virus that starts with symptoms that are like the common cold: fever, runny nose, headache, and for some, diarrhea.

This is when fifth disease is most contagious, then it’s followed by a distinctive red rash. The rash surfaces just as the body is getting rid of the virus.

Babies are often protected against fifth disease because their mothers had it as children. It can be dangerous to pregnant women.

Dr. Mike Patrick, who is an Emergency Medicine expert at Nationwide Children’s Hospital said, “If you have a mom who was never exposed to fifths disease never had it or didn't build a good immunity to it which is an unusual occurrence then sometimes that cause a problem with the baby that can lead to miscarriage.”

Talk with your ob-gyn if you're concerned about not having protection against fifth disease.

People who get the virus can also develop joint pain and swelling.

Prevention begins with good hygiene: thorough hand washing, use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers, covering coughs and sneezes, resting and staying home when you're sick.