Slapped Cheek Syndrome - Dream Health

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Monday 22 December 2014

Slapped Cheek Syndrome

Slapped Cheek Syndrome – Contagious Viral Infection

Slapped cheek syndrome is also known as `fifth disease’ or erythema infectiosum and is a mild to moderately contagious viral infection mostly common among school children between the age of three to fifteen though it could also affect people of any age.

 It occurs mainly in winter and early spring and is called slapped cheek syndrome due to the characteristic initial red marks seen on the face of children.Though most of the symptoms of slapped cheek syndrome are identical to other conditions, several of the cases are diagnosed on examining the rash and no further testing in children is essential.

Slapped cheek syndrome or fifth disease is usually mild and is spread by respiratory droplets which enter the air when an infected individual sneezes or coughs or through blood. It is less risky to healthy children and adults, though pregnant women without immunity to this condition are at risk of miscarriage since it could cause anaemia in the unborn child.

Slapped cheek syndrome is caused by parvovirus B19 which is an airborne virus that spreads in a similar way as the cold or flu viruses through respiratory secretions from an infected person. By the time the rash appears, children are not infectious. The period of incubation is between four to fourteen days though it can be long as 21 days.

Three High Risk Group

There are three kind of high risk groups wherein the parvovirus B19 could cause more serious infection as well as trigger complications namely, with people having certain kind of blood disorder like sickle cell anaemic or thalassaemia where the blood does not contain enough healthy red blood cells or anaemia and the infection could lead to a further and more severe loss of red blood cells.

People with weak immune system could either be due to side effect of treatment like chemotherapy or from condition like HIV and experience prolonged and at times severe symptoms of infection, In the case of older children and adults, they may experience persistent joint pain once the skin rash tend to disappear.A blood test may be needed to check if one is immune to the infection and if not, treatment needs to be started to prevent any complication.

In some cases, the person may need to be admitted in the hospital where a blood transfusion would be necessary. In some rare cases, after being infected with parvovirus B19, it could also lead to the development of meningitis.

Symptoms & Prevention

Symptoms like headaches, high temperature or itchy skin is usually treated with medications available over the counter. Adults particularly women developing joint pain frequently with or without any skin rash could use painkillers of non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs.

 If the persons’ temperature rises to 39C or above or the symptoms suddenly tend to get worse, the physician needs to be consulted for immediate treatment. It seems to be difficult to prevent the spread of the virus since the victim is most contagious before the symptoms show up and hence are unaware that they are infected.

The only means of prevention of the spread of this ailment is to ensure that the members of a household tend to wash their hands as often as possible to reduce the chances of spreading the infection.

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