Fifth Disease Outbreak At Your Child's Daycare?

If your young child attends daycare during the COVID pandemic, you may have already prepared yourself for the possibility of an outbreak of COVID in the daycare facility. But COVID isn't the only virus that can spread easily through children. Several other viral infections can as well, such as fifth disease.

If you've been informed that there is an outbreak of fifth disease at the daycare facility, you likely have a few questions regarding what fifth disease is, what to expect, when you should take your child to a pediatrician, and when your child can return back to daycare. Here's what you need to know about fifth disease in a daycare setting during the COVID pandemic. 

What is Fifth Disease? 

Fifth disease is a viral infection caused by parvovirus B19. Another medical term for this illness is erythema infectiosum. It causes flu-like symptoms, which may be accompanied by a low-grade fever. Fifth disease is spread via saliva and mucus, which is why fifth disease can easily spread in a daycare setting since young children tend to drool, put toys in their mouths, and share germs. A rash will develop on their cheeks several days to a week after the onset of flu-like symptoms. The rash is typically a sign that your child is no longer contagious.

Diagnostic Testing 

If your child develops flu-like or cold-like symptoms, it will be in your best interest to have diagnostic testing done to determine whether or not your child has fifth disease and/or other viral infections, particularly when COVID can also cause the same type of symptoms. While it's true that there is a rash on the cheeks that will develop, you don't want to wait until the rash appears before getting them tested, just in case the symptoms are not from fifth disease after all and are from COVID instead.

Diagnostic testing for fifth disease involves some bloodwork. Given the ongoing pandemic, the pediatrician will likely recommend testing for COVID and influenza as well, depending on the community spread of the different types of viruses. 

Returning to Daycare

Your child will need to be kept home from daycare while they are contagious. If your child does have fifth disease, you will know when they are no longer contagious when they develop the red rash on their cheeks. It will look similar in appearance to a slap-mark on their cheek. The pediatrician will let you know when it's safe for your child to return to daycare.

Contact a local pediatrician to learn more.