Parvovirus (Erythema Infectiousum) (Aplastic Crisis) (Hydrops Fetalis)

Parvovirus infection is caused by Parvovirus B19 virus and can cause a variety of infections; including erythema infectiousum (slapped check), arthritis with swelling of joint, and suppression of production of cells from the bone marrow and fetal loss.

Where does it occur?

It occurs worldwide.

How is it transmitted?

It is most commonly transmitted by respiratory secretions, but can also be transmitted by infected blood products, or across the placenta from mother to fetus.

Is it contagious from person to person?

It is contagious from person to person through respiratory secretions. Once the rash appears, individuals are no longer considered to be contagious.

What is the risk for travelers?

The risk for travelers is generally low.

How soon after exposure will I develop symptoms?

Symptoms may develop anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks after exposure.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Erythema infectiousum:

It is commonly seen in children, who possibly start with a sore throat and fever followed by a red rash on the cheeks that look like “slapped cheeks”. This can be followed by a generalized red lacy rash all over the body.


It is commonly seen in adults, usually women presenting with swollen, painful joints of hands, knees, wrists and ankles.

Aplastic crisis:

Infection with Parvovirus B19 can cause temporary decrease in red blood, white blood and platelet counts. However in individuals with underlying blood disorders like sickle cell disease it can cause near complete suppression of the bone marrow.

Fetal loss:

Parvovirus infection during pregnancy can result in fetal loss with mothers noticing a lack of fetal movement.

Are there any lab tests to diagnose the illness?

Blood PCR tests for Parvovirus are available.

Is there any treatment?

Intravenous immunoglobulin has been shown to be beneficial.

What preventive measures can be taken?

Strict hand washing is the only preventive measure.

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