Where fifth disease got its name

The name "fifth disease" originated in 1905, when a French physician assigned numbers to the common childhood diseases characterized by rashes. For example, measles was "first disease," scarlet fever was "second disease," rubella was "third disease," and so on. Eventually, the numerical names for these diseases were replaced, except in the case of fifth disease, which remains today.

Last Updated: March 3, 2009

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