Slapped Cheek is also known as Fifth Disease is caused by parvovirus B19 an airborne virus. It is during spring and winter time that it passes around commonly in elementary schools.
Slapped Cheek causes a red rash on cheeks, legs and arms of children. In most children it is mild and common. However it can be potentially dangerous and severe for people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women and can spread amongst people of any age, anytime.
The virus spreads in children through secretions of the respiratory system and saliva. Most adults have previous exposure during childhood and do not get Slapped Cheek disease as antibodies present in their body that prevent the disease. Symptoms are severe if they get the disease during adulthood. Serious risk, including the life threatening anemia may be experienced by the unborn child, in pregnant women. Slapped Cheek is a common and mild disease in children having healthy immune systems. The disease very rarely presents any lasting consequence.
Symptoms of Slapped Cheek include nausea, headache, sore throat, low grade fever and fatigue. A rash appears on the cheeks after a few days after symptoms are experienced. The rash spreads to the legs, arms and in a few days to the trunk of the body. As compared to adults the rash is more likely to appear in children.
Main symptom in adults is pain in the joints in the knees, ankles and wrists.
To shorten course of this Slapped Cheek disease, there is no medication currently. Hence patients are advised by most doctors to wait out the symptoms. If the immune system is weakened, then close monitoring is done by the doctor till symptoms disappear.
Diagnosis of Slapped Cheek is done by the doctor by checking out the skin rash and conducting a test for specific antibodies.
No treatment is needed for most healthy individuals. The doctor may advise Acetaminophen if the patient has fever or headache or if the joints hurt, to relieve symptoms. Otherwise it takes around 1-3 weeks for the body to fight off the virus. The patient is advised to drink lots of fluids and take adequate rest, to help the process. No long-term consequences are experienced for Slapped Cheek disease in healthy patients. However, doctor’s care is necessary if immune system of the patient has weakened due to chemotherapy for cancer, AIDS or other conditions. In case of any type of anemia, medical attention is needed as the body may stop producing red blood cells due to Slapped Cheek disease.
To prevent Slapped Cheek, it is best to minimize contact with individuals who are blowing their noses, coughing or sneezing. Hands should be washed frequently to reduce chances of contracting the disease.