What is Slapped Cheek Syndrome?
Having bright red cheeks is the defining manifestation of the viral infection in children thus the label slapped cheek syndrome. Slapped cheek syndrome, otherwise known as the fifth disease because of being the fifth most common disease in children, is just one of the quite a few potential manifestations of infection by erythrovirus.
The causative agent of Slapped cheek syndrome is an airborne virus called Parvovirus B19. Primarily, the virus is transmitted in the same way as flu viruses. They can be spread through contaminated respiratory secretions by coughing and sneezing and direct skin exposure with an infected blood. Inanimate objects can also carry the virus if an infected individual touches them such as telephone and door handles and infects other people if their contaminated hands come in contact with their mouth, nose and eyes. The incubation period is typically between four to twenty-one days. An infected individual is highly contagious during the early stage of the illness, before the appearance of the rash. As parvovirus 19 penetrates the circulation, it attacks the erythroid progenitor cells which are situated in bone marrows and blood itself.
Usually, the clinical manifestations of slapped cheek syndrome start between 13-18 days after the person develops the viral infection. The symptoms follow three distinct phases. In the first stage, mild flu-like symptoms are experienced by the individual. It includes hyperthermia, sore throat, headache, stomachache, fatigue and skin itching. The first stage of symptoms is when the person is most contagious. Within three days to 1 week subsequent to the onset of flu-like symptoms, the individual develops bright red facial rash more predominant on the cheeks. The appearance of the bright red rash is the second stage. The third stage begins one to four days following the development of the slapped cheek rash. In this stage, the person usually develops a red, raised lacy rash spreading most commonly to the chest, stomach, arms and thighs and to the rest of the body. The said rash may cause itching and discomfort.
No vaccines are presently available. It is usually a mild illness which quickly passes within 4 to 5 weeks without undergoing any treatment and without leaving any complications. For high fever of 38 degrees Celsius, headache and joint pain, paracetamol can be administered. Antihistamine, on the other hand, is used to relieve itchy skin. Another alternative method to soothe the skin is by applying moisturizing lotion. In cases of sore throat, drinking enough water can help.
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