Fifth disease is a viral illness caused by the human parvovirus B19. It produces a distinctive red rash on the face, body, arms, and legs.

Spread by sneezing, coughing, or sharing drinking glasses, this illness starts with a slight fever, headache, and stuffy or runny nose. In a few days, a bright red rash appears on the face. After several days, it spreads to the rest of the body. The rash can take 1 to 3 weeks to completely disappear.

Because it is caused by a virus, antibiotics don't help. For most people, the symptoms are not bad enough to need medicine. Once someone has had fifth disease, they are immune and can't get it again.

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