Parvovirus B19

Well. I’m hoping our family isn’t starting the New Year by imitating Mary’s One Long Year.

Our household has been infiltrated with a little virus, this time one known as fifth disease. Acadia’s got the classic slapped-cheek look. Other than that, it’s hard to tell if it is bothering her, since she is generally a cranky fussbucket anyway these days. I think she feels fine. She just saw the photo I took of her, and she said, “I say, ‘Why me have a rash,’ you say, ‘I don’t know.'” Acadia’s got the science of medicine down pretty well.

I had fifth disease as a teenager and I was not a happy camper. My poor father, though, had it even worse (apparently it affects you worse the older you are). He and my mother were on their way to Hawaii when he broke out in a rash, and he remained achy and miserable for pretty much the whole trip. What a wicked bummer. I can’t remember if I got it after they got back, or while they were away. I know it wasn’t as bad with me as it was with him.

The CDC says it’s usually something that resolves itself in a few days. It can cause severe anemia in some cases, and if a pregnant woman is exposed to fifth disease and doesn’t already have the antibodies for it, she needs to have lots of ultrasounds and maybe transfusions. Not an issue in this household, thankfully.

As you can see, she doesn’t really care that she’s sick.

Why’s this called “fifth disease”? Here’s the explanation:

The derivation of the name Fifth disease is interesting. Back in the old days (the old old days — when germ theory was just being formulated), many physicians had noticed that while rashes sometimes appeared on their own, they were often associated with sickness. These illness associated rashes occurred in two broad categories. The first was the pox diseases — chickenpox, smallpox and cowpox. The second category was “everything else.” Not knowing what else to do, they took this group of diseases and numbered them, one through six. Over time, the number designations have given way to more common names, except for erythema infectiosum, which is still better known as Fifth disease.


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My blog. Herein read entries related to who and what is important to me. Feel free to leave comments. I feel free to delete them if I don't like them. So there. By reading about my life, readers should expect to begin to see their own lives as increasingly more organized and sophisticated, their homes cleaner and neater.

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