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Slapped Cheek Syndrome

Slapped Cheek Disease or Slapped Cheek Syndrome (erythema infectiosum) is the name given to a bright red rash that appears on the cheeks of people infected by parvovirus B19.

The virus is contagious and can be passed on through coughing and sneezing. Slapped Cheek Disease is also referred to as Fifth Disease as it belongs to a group of five diseases including scarlet fever, measles, rubella and roseola.

After becoming infected with the virus it can take up to two weeks for symptoms to develop. The symptoms of Slapped Cheek Syndrome are similar to those of flu - a high temperature, sore throat and aches and pains. A red rash on the cheeks usually appears a few days after the flu-like symptoms, and a few days after that you may notice a red lacy rash on the body and limbs. The rash can be itchy and uncomfortable.

Some babies will have all of these symptoms, some will have red cheeks but feel fine otherwise and others will not have the rash at all.

After recovering, the rash may reappear especially when in the Sun or after a bath, but this doesn't mean the infection has come back.

The symptoms of Slapped Cheek Disease (Slapped Cheek Syndrome) usually go away on their own. Sometimes the redness can remain for a few weeks. If your baby's temperature is particularly high or the fever lasts for more than a few days you should go to the doctor. Otherwise there's no real need to see a doctor for Slapped Cheek Disease/Slapped Cheek Syndrome.

Remember to keep your baby hydrated by feeding lots of milk or water. You can also offer liquid paracetamol to those over three months old to treat a fever but make sure you read the dosage instructions carefully.

Because the virus is contagious, it is best to keep your baby at home until the symptoms have gone to avoid spreading the disease to other children. Most adults become immune to infections caused by parvovirus B19 and if you've had Slapped Cheek Disease/Slapped Cheek Syndrome before you are not likely to get it again.

If you have been in contact with someone with the disease when you are pregnant you should see your doctor for a blood test. Most women who have Slapped Cheek Disease during pregnancy go on to have healthy babies but there is a slightly higher risk of miscarriage if you have the disease in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy.

September 2012
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