Parvovirus B19

Parvovirus B19 commonly causes Fifth Disease, also known as Slapped Cheek and Erythema Infectiosum, a common paediatric viral rash. It is a seasonal virus that peaks in winter and spring, spread by respiratory droplets. Typically symptoms appear 14 days after exposure.

Classic symptoms are fever, coryza, headache and rash. There are two types of rash: first an erythematous rash on the cheeks appears; a few days later a lacy reticular rash may appear on the limbs and torso.

Patients may also get a polyarthropathy, although this is more common in adults than children.

Parvovirus B19 typically causes a mild disease. However, children with chronic anaemia, such as sickle cell disease, hereditary spherocytosis or leukaemia, can develop an aplastic crisis, a haematological emergency. The virus can also be transmitted vertically in pregnancy causing hydrops fetalis and so pregnant women exposed to Parvovirus B19 should be advised to seek medical advice.