Little Known Virus Making Kids Sick in St. Louis

"Fifth Disease" is spreading in schools and nurseries

Fred Bodimer
December 12, 2018 - 1:00 pm
SLUCare logo



ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX) — A little heard of viral illness is hitting schools and nurseries hard in the St. Louis area. 

"Fifth Disease is a viral illness that's very common in kids, it's caused by a virus called parvovirus B 19," SLUCare's Dr. Ken Haller told KMOX Health Editor Fred Bodimer. 

So, what should parents be on the lookout for?

"What it looks like is kids will develop a fever, a runny nose, they might have some headaches and body aches with it, and they will develop a rash.  This is sort of what distinguishes Fifth Disease from other diseases.  The rash generally starts out on the face and makes the cheeks turn red.  It is sometimes called slapped cheek rash."

Haller says it's very contagious.  That's why it hits schools and nurseries during the winter.

"What can happen is after the rash resolves, the symptoms can continue for up to 7 to 10 days.  And sometimes kids and adults if they get it will have a rash on their chest and body which may be itchy.  Interestingly, it does seem to be most itchy on the soles of the feet if you get this," says Dr. Haller.

Fifth Disease is usually not serious and is traditionally treated simply by treating the fever and keeping your child hydrated.  Once you get it, Dr. Haller says you pretty much are immune from it for the rest of  your life.