Child DiseaseSkin Disease

Parvovirus B19: Symptoms, infection and treatment

There are a variety of diseases that can affect children, many of which are caused by viruses, so it is necessary that parents are always aware of any changes that may occur, since they are very contagious. There are cases where children are affected by infections that have repercussions in the body and that may need a timely response from the parents to take the child to an appointment with the pediatrician, especially if this infection causes rashes in the baby.

Parvovirus B19

These cover the cheek, arms and legs, which can be caused by parvovirus B19 or also called erythema infectiosum. It is a frequent disease in children, mainly in pre-school and school age, but very little known by parents and that is why, in this article, we explain everything about parvovirus B19: symptoms, infection and treatment.

Table of Contents

What is Parvovirus B19

The parvovirus B19 or fifth disease is a disease caused by the virus of the same name. It is characterized by a rash or skin rash that covers several parts of the body. This virus only affects humans, being different from the one that affects animals, such as the canine parvovirus that affects dogs but not people. This disease usually presents mild symptoms, however it is seen as a risk factor for pregnant women, people with weak immune system, anemia or people with cancer.

Symptoms of Parvovirus B19

Parvovirus B19 presents typical signs and symptoms of the disease, mainly recognized by the reddish rash present on cheeks, legs, arms and trunk. It is easily confused with a common cold, because the child has symptoms of parvovirus B19 that are very similar to those of the cold:

  • Stuffy nose
  • Runny nose
  • Fever
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Itching

However, as the days go by, the characteristic rash appears as if they were “slapping the cheeks”.

In case of being affected an adult presents joint pains and pregnant women run the risk of abortion, fetal anemia or intrauterine fetal death. Another possible characteristic of the disease is that it gets worse in those with hemolytic diseases, causing the red blood cell count to drop. In addition, it produces cutaneous alterations, such as vascular purpura, pemphigoid, erythema multiforme, etc.

Apart from the above symptoms, individuals have swollen glands, red eyes, diarrhea, etc. There are a percentage of people (around 20%) who acquire parvovirus B19 but have no symptoms.

How parvovirus B19 spread

Parvovirus B19 is rarely present in adults; however there are cases where adults become infected with this disease. It is more common in children of preschool and school age and is spread from one person to another through fluids, such as saliva or sputum, that come from the nose or mouth and this occurs when a person sneezes or coughs. The pregnant mother is also infected with the fetus, causing a serious illness in the fetus and, in addition, it affects even more those children who have anemia.

It is not the same virus that affects animals and, therefore, people cannot get it, the one that produces parvovirus in animals, nor can they get it from us, that is, parvovirus B19 only gets from a person to another.

It is more common for the infection to occur before the rash appears, because this rash is already a response of the immune system that appears when the infection has passed, so after this, in principle, that person will no longer be contagious.

Treatment for parvovirus B19

The infectious erythema produced by the parvovirus B19 virus is a disease that resolves quickly and without complications.

This disease despite being produced by a virus, there is no antiviral on the market to eliminate this disease, since it has very mild symptoms and simply disappear. It is recommended to treat the symptoms it produces to calm the discomfort in the person, in addition to rest.

In case of itching in the rash it is important to have good communication with the pediatrician to recommend a treatment to calm this feeling in the child.

There is no prevention method because there are no vaccines for this disease, not even isolating the sick person will prevent the transmission to another person. It is recommended to maintain good hygiene in the items used by the sick person.

This disease is resolved without any complication, however it is seen as a risk factor those children with weak immune system, at least in case of presenting HIV, AIDS or alterations in the blood, since the disease tends to be more dangerous for them.