Parvovirus Infection

What is Parvovirus Infection?

Parvovirus Infection is more commonly known as fifth disease or slapped-cheek disease because of the characteristic red rash that appears on the cheeks. It is extremely common in children, especially those in daycare and school because it is highly contagious.

It is caused by parvovirus B19, and it is spread through nasal secretions, sputum and blood. In most cases the symptoms are mild and do not require treatment.  However, it can cause serious complications in adults, those with weakened immune systems, those with certain types of anemia, and in fetuses. A simple blood test is used to diagnose the infection.

What are the Symptoms of Parvovirus Infection?

After exposure and infection it can take between 4 days and two weeks for the illness to appear. Symptoms of parvovirus may include:

  • Runny nose
  • Temperature
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Headache
  • Red rash on cheeks
  • Rash may also appear on the limbs, soles of the feet, trunk and buttocks
  • Rash may be itchy

Adults with parvovirus infection do not typically have a slapped-check appearance. They typically experience aching joints of the ankles, knees, hands and wrists. The pain can last for weeks.

How is Parvovirus Infection Treated?

After the rash appears the virus is no longer transmittable. In otherwise healthy individuals, home treatment is usually enough. Symptoms are commonly treated with over-the-counter cold and pain medications. Those at risk should seek professional treatment. Hospitalization be required for those with severe anemia or compromised immune systems.

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Last Reviewed:
October 07, 2016
Last Updated:
August 23, 2017
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