My name is Lucie, and I am 18 weeks pregnant. I just learned that my best friend’s son has 5th disease, and I am worried about my baby and me. Can you give me more information, please? Lucie

Hello Lucie,

Fifth disease is an infection that frequently occurs in young children, often between 4-10 years of age. It’s associated with a virus called parvovirus B19. This causes cheek erythema (severe redness) and a rash with small bumps on their hands and feet. That’s why this disease is also called gloves and socks syndrome.

The contagion can occur 1-5 days before the start of outbreaks. Infection is via direct contact, in the air, respiratory discharge or saliva droplets. A pregnant woman can also transmit it to her baby in 33% of cases.

Many, many people have been infected with the parvovirus, but they remain symptom-free or had signs of a mild cold, fever, rhinitis, headaches or body aches. It can last 1-3 weeks then disappear on its own without lasting effects. This is why only the symptoms are treated.

You can ask your doctor to verify if you are carrying antibodies for this infection. About 50% of adults are immunised, and your baby will get the benefits of this in your uterus. You are already in your 2nd trimester, and that significantly reduces the risks of anemia and heart problems for your baby.

In Quebec, women will go on preventative leave if they are not immunised for parvovirus B19, but not elsewhere in Canada. This is because even if you aren’t at work, you can still come into contact with the virus.

I hope this helps you, Lucie!

Talk soon,


The Baby Expert