Fifth disease: The illness ‘common’ in children – the signs and symptoms to spot

Doctor describes symptoms of slapped cheek syndrome

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Symptoms of fifth disease include:
• A high temperature
• A runny nose
• Sore throat
• Headache.

Soon after these symptoms arise, a red rash normally develops on one or both cheeks.

Although adults with fifth disease don’t develop this rash, they tend to experience joint pain and stiffness, symptoms which can continue for weeks after the other symptoms have dissipated.

While fifth disease rarely poses a threat the NHS recommends a person books an appointment with their GP if they’re pregnant, have a blood disorder, or if they have a weakened immune system.

Furthermore, they add, an urgent appointment should be requested if they have very pale skin, shortness of breath, extreme tiredness, or fainting as these are signs of severe anaemia.

Should this be the case, the patient in question will be sent to hospital for a blood transfusion.

Meanwhile, concern is rising about the spread of another illness affecting children.

In recent weeks a greater number of children have been falling ill with a mystery strain of hepatitis.

Many of the first cases were reported in the UK, but it has now been reported in 12 countries.

The World Health Organisation said it was now aware of 169 cases.

Acute hepatitis, the disease in question, is an inflammation of liver; so far 17 children have required liver transplants and one child has passed away.

Most of the infections are confined to the UK with 114 cases reported.

The outbreak has been under investigation since the start of the year when a cluster of cases was reported in Scotland.

The WHO’s Richard Peabody has said: “Although the numbers aren’t big, the consequences have been quite severe. It’s important that countries look.”

So far scientists have been puzzled by the spread as the disease is not linked to any of the five strains of hepatitis.

So far, they believe the adenovirus, a type of virus that causes the common cold, could be behind the outbreak.

Symptoms of hepatitis include:
• Dark urine
• Jaundice
• Fatigue
• Fever
• Loss of appetite
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Abdominal pain
• Light-coloured stools
• Joint pain.

Parents are being advised to contact a healthcare professional in the event they spot symptoms.

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