from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A mild viral disease occurring mainly in early childhood, characterized by fever, a rosy-red rash on the cheeks that often spreads to the trunk and limbs, and usually arthritis and malaise. Also called erythema infectiosum.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The manifestation as rashes of a particular viral infection.


From its being fifth in frequency of rash-producing childhood diseases.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Historically classified as the fifth of the classical childhood skin rashes or exanthems, after measles, scarlet fever, rubella, and Dukes' disease. (Wiktionary)


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  • Also because it's kind of hard to tell when someone has fifth disease, other than the rosy cheeks, because they could just be, you know, rosy cheeks, or sunburn, or maybe the kid's overheated or whatever. At least, I couldn't tell when my spawn had it till the doctor told me.

    August 10, 2009

  • No, it's real. Apparently, after naming 4 different kinds of rashes/diseases kids could get, this was the best they could do for number 5. If I'm remembering correctly, a pregnant woman should avoid contact with a child with fifth's disease. Easier said than done if that child happens to be one of hers...

    August 9, 2009

  • I dunno. Sounds suspiciously like Munchausen's by proxy to me.

    August 9, 2009

  • "Slapped cheek syndrome" (from red rash on cheeks) a mild viral disease (fifth in frequency of rash-producing maladies in early childhood).

    August 9, 2009