Fifth's Disease crops up in county

Staff writer

A case of Fifth’s Disease recently was confirmed at Peabody-Burns Elementary School, according to principal Ron Traxson, who sent out a notice to parents of PBES students as a public safety reminder.

Fifth’s Disease is a mild rash illness spread by respiratory secretions, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifth’s disease is usually mild for children and adults who are otherwise healthy, and may sometimes go unnoticed.

However, the disease can cause serious health complications for individuals with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, according to the CDC website.

County health department director Diedre Serene said there have not been any other confirmed cases in the county.

“The hard part is that you don’t know they are contagious until they are not contagious,” she said. “Usually symptoms are mild and non-specific.

First signs of Fifth Disease may include a mild fever, runny nose, and headache.

“What kid doesn’t have that with a sinus infection or allergies?” she said.

However, she said this is when the disease is most contagious.

Then a rash may appear on the face and body, called “slapped check” rash, which is the most distinguishing feature of Fifth’s disease. Varying in intensity and usually lasting anywhere from one to several weeks, the rash also may be itchy, especially on the soles of the feet.

“Fifth’s Disease is not an exclusionary disease,” Serene said. “Children can attend school once the rash appears because they are no longer contagious.”

Painful swollen joints, more common in adults, are another possible symptom.

It is suggested that children and adults with symptoms see their health care provider for diagnosis and treatment information.

Hand washing and covering mouths when coughing or sneezing help prevent spread of the disease.

Find more information at

Last modified Oct. 13, 2016