Parvovirus B19 is responsible for many illnesses, such as fifth disease, a mild rash illness that occurs most often in children. Other illnesses include arthropathy, chronic anemia, and fetal infection. This virus is most likely spread from person to person by direct contact with respiratory secretions, such as saliva, sputum, and nasal mucus.
What Is Parvovirus B19?
Parvovirus B19 is a virus that commonly infects humans. About 50 percent of all adults have been infected sometime during childhood or adolescence. This virus only infects only humans. It is a small, single-stranded DNA virus.
Effects of Parvovirus B19
The effects of a parvovirus B19 infection can range from no symptoms to life-threatening problems. A person's age and whether they have any problems with their immune system or blood appear to influence the severity of the infection.
About 25 percent of people infected with parvovirus B19 never develop any symptoms. Another 50 percent will only have flu-like symptoms, such as fever, excessive tiredness, headache, and muscle pain. The remaining 25 percent will have the classic symptoms of infection, including a rash, joint pain, and/or joint swelling. These people might have flu-like symptoms for the first week, followed by the rash and joint pain or swelling the second week.
Many of the illnesses that parvovirus B19 can cause have been categorized into syndromes, including:
- Fifth disease (erythema infectiosum or slapped cheek syndrome)
- Arthropathy (a condition that affects the joints)
- Transient aplastic crisis in those with chronic conditions that affect the blood
- Chronic anemia in people with a compromised immune system
- Fetal infection.
Many of these conditions occur because parvovirus B19 causes problems with bone marrow cells.