Doctors want parents to keep an eye out on summer viral illness

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Posted at 10:18 AM, Jul 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-08 11:44:43-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Although it is summer, kids still get sick.

One illness typically causes vomiting, diarrhea, high fevers and dehydration.

This is the time of year doctors see a spike in viral cases of hand, foot and mouth disease and Fifth Disease.

Hand, foot and mouth disease is a viral infection that is highly contagious, particularly among toddlers, infants and young children.

“It is a great name because it kind of describes the disease. You can get ulcerations in your mouth, you can get little sores on their little hands, bottoms of their feet. Usually these sores are kind of red, and it comes with fever. Sometimes the ulcers in the mouth can get bad enough where you do need to see your doctor to get a little pain relief for the ulcers that are occurring in the mouth,” said Corpus Christi Medical Center emergency room Assistant Medical Director Dr. Kelly Campbell.

There's no vaccine for Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, and the symptoms typically last about a week.

“It says it right there in the name," Campbell said. "You look for ulcerations in the mouth or sores in the mouth, fever, tiredness, sores on their hands and feet. It is right there in the name hand, foot and mouth.”

Another virus on the rise during the summer is Fifth Disease, also known as "slap cheek disease" because of the way it can appear on a person's face.

“Kids that tend to be at risk for Fifth Disease are children in daycare, camps, public events, and they tend to spread it through coughing and sneezing. The little guys hands are usually not very clean and so they will spread it to each other. You usually get outbreaks, especially in daycares, and like I said, summer camps,” said Campbell.

This virus rapidly spreads because it is contagious before the rash appears, and despite the name, this is actually a very mild illness.

“They will have a fever, may not feel well, they will have like a mild flu like illness, and it usually resolves within about a week or so,” said Campbell.

Fifth Disease is spread from one child to another through direct contact with fluid from the nose and throat.

Both Fifth Disease and Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease can be best avoided by killing common germs every day.

“It is fairly easy to prevent; it is just good hygiene: hand washing, wiping away any kind of secretions from the nose or mouth. Once somebody has been diagnosed with this, really keep them away from other kids, making sure that they don’t spread this to the other children in your household or out in public,” said Campbell.

These viruses can also be treated with rest, fluids and over-the-counter medication like Tylenol and Ibuprofen.

Fifth Disease is a mild rash illness caused by parvovirus B19. It is more common in children than adults.

A person usually gets sick with Fifth Disease within 4 to 14 days after getting infected with parvovirus B19.

This disease, also called erythema infectiosum, got its name because it was fifth in a list of historical classifications of common skin rash illnesses in children.

Signs & Symptoms:

The symptoms of Fifth Disease are usually mild and may include:

· fever
· runny nose
· headache
· rash

You can get a rash on your face and body.

You may get a red rash on your face called “slapped cheek” rash.

Some people may get a second rash a few days later on their chest, back, buttocks, or arms and legs. The rash may be itchy, especially on the soles of the feet.


Fifth disease is usually mild for children and adults who are otherwise healthy. But for some people Fifth Disease can cause serious health complications, such as chronic anemia that requires medical treatment.

You may be at risk for serious complications from fifth disease if you have a weakened immune system caused by leukemia, cancer, organ transplants, or HIV infection.


Parvovirus B19—which causes Fifth Disease—spreads through respiratory secretions, such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus, when an infected person coughs or sneezes.


Healthcare providers can often diagnose Fifth Disease just by seeing “slapped cheek” rash on a patient’s face. They can also do a blood test to determine if you are susceptible or immune to parvovirus B19 infection or if you were recently infected.


There is no vaccine or medicine that can prevent parvovirus B19 infection. You can reduce your chance of being infected or infecting others by:

· washing your hands often with soap and water
· covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
· not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
· avoiding close contact with people who are sick
· staying home when you are sick


Fifth Disease is usually mild and will go away on its own. Children and adults who are otherwise healthy usually recover completely. Treatment usually involves relieving symptoms, such as fever, itching, and joint pain and swelling.

People who have complications from Fifth Disease should see their healthcare provider for medical treatment.

Hand Foot Mouth Disease

· There are more than 200,000 US cases per year.
· Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that usually affects infants and children younger than 5 years old.
· However, it can sometimes occur in older children and adults. Typical symptoms of hand, foot, and mouth disease include fever, mouth sores, and a skin rash.
· Short-term: resolves within days to weeks
· Usually self-treatable
· Spreads easily
· Requires a medical diagnosis
· Lab tests or imaging often required


· By skin-to-skin contact (handshakes or hugs).
· By airborne respiratory droplets (coughs or sneezes).