Numerous outbreaks of Fifth Disease have been reported internationally. That, itself, is not particularly newsworthy because outbreaks are quite common and disease is typically mild. In children, Fifth Disease typically causes a rash on the face, trunk and limbs. The same type of rash can occur in adults, as can joint point or swelling. Severe complications can develop in pregnant women. There is no vaccine. Fifth Disease is caused by Parvovirus B19, a fact that sometimes leads to questions about dogs because of peoples’ awareness about canine parvovirus.
Canine parvovirus is a highly infectious cause of life-threatening diarrhea in dogs, mainly puppies. Canine parvovirus vaccination is a very important component of routine vaccines for dogs.
Questions often arise about whether dogs can be a source of Fifth Disease, or whether people with this disease can infect dogs. The parvovirus that causes Fifth Disease is not the same virus that causes disease in dogs. Human parvovirus cannot infect dogs, nor vice versa.
An interesting fact about Fifth Disease is the origin of its name. The name originates from a standard list of causes of rash from the early 1900s. This condition was the fifth on the list, and for some reason, it became known as ‘Fifth Disease’. None of the other disease were named by their ranking.
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