It's worth mentioning that Dukes' disease -- supposedly fourth in the line of childhood rash-causing illnesses -- is now believed to be nonexistent. Scientists have gone through old records of the data, and they believe that reports of Dukes' disease were actually cases of rubella and scarlet fever that were wrongly diagnosed [source: American Journal of Epidemiology].
Fifth Disease in Adults
Like other childhood rashes, the effects of fifth disease can become more severe when an adult becomes infected. In addition to all of the other symptoms, adults often experience soreness in the joints, including the hands, wrists, knees and ankles [source: Mayo Clinic: Parvovirus]. These symptoms can last for several weeks or even months, in some cases [source: Center for Disease Control].
Although the additional symptoms may be problematic, they're nothing compared to the complications associated with fifth disease and pregnancy. In the most severe cases, the mother can pass on parvovirus to her unborn child, causing severe anemia and possibly a miscarriage. These complications are more likely in the earlier stages of pregnancy. If you're pregnant and have become infected with fifth disease, your doctor may want to schedule more frequent checkups and ultrasounds to make sure the baby remains healthy. Although these extra visits with the doctor may help protect the baby, there are no actual medicines or vaccines to prevent the disease or cure it once someone contracts it [source: Center for Disease Control].
Luckily, about 50 percent of women are immune to fifth disease because they've had the illness before, and that immunity protects the fetus from infection. In addition, the most severe complications occur in less than 5 percent of women who contract fifth disease, making the likelihood of harming the child highly unlikely [source: Center for Disease Control].
Read on to find out what types of treatment can help alleviate the symptoms of fifth disease in children, adults and severe cases.