The symptoms of fifth disease are usually mild, and up to 25% of adults and children infected with the virus will not develop symptoms at all.
If symptoms do develop, they usually start to appear about 4 to 14 days after becoming infected with the virus. The first symptom of fifth disease is usually a mild, red rash on the cheeks that looks like the face has been slapped. This is followed by a red, lacy rash on the arms, legs, stomach, and back. The rash occurs in 75% of children and 50% of adults. The rash will disappear on its own in 7 to 10 days, but may rarely reappear and clear for several weeks.
Other symptoms associated with fifth disease include:
- low-grade fever a few days prior to the rash (more common in adults)
- sore throat
- stomach pain
- joint pain lasting 2 to 3 days (more common in adults)
Infection during pregnancy can cause severe anemia in the unborn child. However, the chance of this occurring is very small. There is also a small chance of miscarriage when infection occurs during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester. If you are pregnant and are exposed to someone with fifth disease, contact your doctor.
Severe complications are rare with fifth disease. However, if you have certain medical conditions (e.g., immune system problems, cancer, leukemia, or have had an organ transplant), you may become more seriously ill with fifth disease. Talk to your doctor if you have any of these medical conditions and think you may have been exposed or infected.