Understanding Fifth Disease -- Prevention

How Can I Prevent Fifth Disease?

There is no vaccine against fifth disease.

About 50% of adults are immune to fifth disease because they had it in childhood, often without knowing it.

Fifth Disease in Children

To limit the spread of fifth disease among children at home or in a child-care setting, take the following steps:

  • Wash hands often, especially after wiping or blowing noses and before preparing or eating food.
  • Do not share food, pacifiers, bottles, eating utensils, or drinking cups.
  • If toys tend to end up in tots' mouths, clean and disinfect them often.
  • Don't kiss children on the mouth.
  • Play outdoors as much as possible. It's easier for the virus to spread indoors where people are likely to be in closer contact.
  • Make sure children are not crowded together, especially during nap time.
  • Teach children to cough or sneeze into a tissue (which should be thrown away immediately) or the inside of their elbow (which is less likely than their hands to spread the virus) and away from other people.
  • Children with fifth disease generally do not need to be excluded from day care as they are unlikely to be contagious after the rash appears and a diagnosis has been made.


Pregnant Women and Fifth Disease

If a woman is certain she has had fifth disease in the past, there is no need to be concerned about exposure to it during pregnancy. If she is uncertain, a blood test can determine whether she has had fifth disease and is thus immune.

Pregnant women who are not immune should take steps to avoid infection. For instance, if there is an outbreak of fifth disease in her workplace, she should discuss with her doctor whether she should stay home from work until it subsides. At home, she should wash her hands thoroughly after touching tissues used by infected children and dispose of tissues promptly. She also should avoid sharing drinking glasses or utensils with anyone who has the illness or was exposed to it.

Some doctors recommend immunoglobulin if a pregnant women has been exposed to the virus.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on March 23, 2019


SOURCES: American Academy of Pediatrics. 2003 Red Book Report on the Committee of Infectious Diseases (American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infections Diseases//Report of the Committee on Infections Diseases)

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