Complications of fifth disease

In fifth disease, the body stops producing red blood cells for a short time. This usually does not cause a problem for an otherwise normally healthy child or adult. However, it can become a serious threat for people who have blood disorders, such as sickle cell disease and thalassemia. These people can develop transient aplastic crisis, a rapid worsening of existing anemia that usually lasts 7 to 10 days. People who have transient aplastic anemia can become very sick; symptoms include fever, lethargy, rapid heart rate, and rapid breathing.

People who have impaired immune systems who become infected with fifth disease may develop a chronic parvovirus B19 infection that can lead to severe anemia.

Last Updated: March 3, 2009

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