Parvovirus B19 (B19, erythrovirus B19) is a human virus. It belongs to the family of Parvoviruses and to the genus Erythrovirus. There are many parvoviruses that cause animal diseases, but B19 is causing only human infections.
This virus is known to cause rash in children, and this condition is called fifth disease or sometimes erythema infectiosum. Often, doctors refer to this viral infection as slapped cheek syndrome.
Fifth disease is common among children, but people of all ages may be infected with this virus. B19 infection is contagious, luckily only in initial stages. People that already developed the symptoms and the rash can’t pass on the infection. Infected people transmit the disease by air because exhaled air contains the virus and spread the infection.
Symptoms in Humans
Usually, people can’t tell the difference between common cold and parvovirus infection. It’s because initial symptoms are quite similar in both of these conditions. People frequently complain about the fever, tiredness, headaches and aching throat. Some patients notice unexplainable itching when infected with human parvovirus. These symptoms last for a week and all that time viral infection can be spread among the people surrounding the patient. After that time, patients develop the full picture of the disease. Red rash that itch is the characteristic symptom for this condition. In most cases, the rash is located on the cheeks, but it might appear anywhere on the body. Rash has a tendency to emerge on feet and hands, which is why they call the condition glove and sock rash.
HIV/AIDS patients are sensitive infections in general, including B19 infection. This viral infection might cause anemia in AIDS patients. Pregnant women and people suffering from other diseases (including cancers and anemias) should be very careful not to be exposed to B19. In these patients doctors noticed much more complications than usual, and the virus is known to cause health issues in unborn babies.
Early stages of the parvovirus infection resemble common cold or flu and because of that, this condition often gets diagnosed in later stages.
Doctors usually prescribe non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve some of the symptoms, usually just the initial fever and weakness. This treatment works in people that don’t have any other medical condition.
Patients with compromised immune system usually develop anemia after the parvovirus infection. Immune globulin injections are the most common solution for this problem.
Whenever there is a viral infection (including B19 infection) doctors recommend resting and taking sufficient amount of fluids, to enhance excretion of the virus from the body.