We've all heard of the chickenpox or the common cold, but how many of us have actually heard about Fifth disease? If you haven't (and let's be honest, who has), don't worry! We're here to give you a rundown on what this infectious illness is all about.
The Basics - Understanding What This Illness Is
First things first – Fifth disease isn't caused by an evil villain trying to take over the world. It’s just a viral infection caused by human parvovirus B19. Wowzers! That sounds fancy (cue sarcastic tone)! So what exactly does that mean? Well firstly, we need to understand that humans get infected with different types of viruses in their lifetime and unfortunately one way or another one may bump into parvovirus B19 which brings forth fifth disease symptoms.
The virus targets red blood cells (stay with me here folks) and causes them not to work properly (lazy bums). In addition it can cause rashes among other symptoms.
Who Are Most Likely To Be Affected By Fifth Disease?
Fifth disease mostly affects children between ages 5-15 years old. Adults are also susceptible; although they often experience milder forms than children do once infected. As long as you exist in planet earth and come across someone or something/body fluid carrying this virus , then consider yourself at risk for getting this bugger!
There are some populations that need extra attention though because if they get exposed there might be more serious health implications . These include;
• Pregnant women • People with pre-existing anemia (low iron levels) • Immunocompromised individuals eg people undergoing chemo therapy
Since the virus doesn’t survive very long outside our bodies anyway(foreign invader alert!!!) , there really isn’t much research conducted aimed at targeting specific populations .
What Are The Symptoms of Fifth Disease?
It's always good to know what symptoms we are on the lookout for before preparing to battle one more illness. Fifth disease usually takes about four to 21 days from exposure to being visible (somewhat like a spy movie’s underdog who saves the day). Symptoms will likely last around one to three weeks and could include:
• Fever - Who doesn’t love having an internal sauna! • Cold-like symptoms (and everyone loves having a cold at any time) • A distinct "slapped-cheek" rash on both cheeks • Generalized body rash • Joint pain/swelling (Because life isn't painful enough already)
Fifth disease can also result in mild anemia which is why patients may feel weak and tired too.
Remember every human operates differently so not all people will experience exact fifth illness symptoms – your body might decide that it wants some irregular maddeningly worse experience! Something else you’ll notice is that while the slapped cheek face mark occurs during early stage of infection ,the generalized rash show up during later stages - great isn’t it?(whatever happened to gradual, step-by-step growth??!)
Is This Illness Contagious? And If So, How Does It Spread?
In general,Fifth disease is contagious(warning warning!!!) and spread by droplets contained in airborne bodily secretions e.g saliva,mucus,coughs or when infected person comes into close contact with another person eg sharing utensils. We put together this fancy diagram below depicting how transmission typically occurs;
One thing worth noting though(let me make sure you got this)is that individuals infected with parvovirus B19 are typically only infectious for several days before becoming symptomatic i.e once symptoms start popping up direct spread is less likely unless one comes into contact with secretions and fluids from the sick person
So How Do I Confirm That This Is What I am Suffering From?
It’s important to note that since most of the symptoms shown in fifth disease are also closely linked to other conditions, accurate diagnosis of this condition can be challenging. But not all hope lost! We got some tricks up our sleeve (don’t we always?), Here's what you need to check;
• Physical Examination Fifth disease rashes are often easier differentiable as it takes on a clear pattern (red blotches containing whiteish centers) with enough certainty for your GP or medical professional (if they exist - well who doesn’t appreciate an overworked medical setting?).
• Blood Tests Blood tests may help detect parvovirus antibodies which could indicate active or previous infection
Treating Fifth Disease – When The Battle Heats Up!
Don't panic yet when diagnosed because thankfully fifth disease will resolve by itself without treatment. For individuals experiencing fever and joint pains , standard antipyretic drugs should do the trick but just as regular doctor visits go: if things don't look like they're improving then hurry up back – It's always better safe than sorry.
Doctors however might prescribe intravenous immunoglobulin therapy(what a mouthful right?) .This kind of medication contains substances created by others’ defense system inorder boost victim’s immunity against parvovirus B19 virus . These usually reduce healing time and will eventually aid you Beat this little devil .
Can You Prevent Fifth Disease?
You know me too well guys…OF COURSE IT IS POSSIBLE !
Remember pretty much anything that puts our immune systems down leaves us vulnerable to infections including fifth disease . Here are few guidelines that could save you from hosting these violent bugs:
• Wash your hands A LOT. It can’t be emphasized enough.Occasional hygiene helps alot too. • Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette - must we remind people? • Stay home if you feel unwell rather than putting the world at risk • Pregnant women due to vulnerability should avoid contact with individuals or situations in which they might get exposed eg, Childcare.
Fifth disease may not sound like a common illness but it still affects a significant portion of the population worldwide despite lacking widespread media coverage (no surprises there). However knowledge about this illness is power especially when someone recognizes unfamiliar symptoms in oneself ,friends or children.So know what fifth disease symptoms look like including how it spreads & one day…You’ll never know whose life’s you’ve saved!