Parvovirus B-19 (Fifth Disease)

Fifth Disease (also called erythema infectiosum) is caused by the virus Parvovirus B-19. It is common in kids ages 4 to 14 and can lead to a flu-like illness often with joint pains and a characteristic facial rash sometimes called the “slapped cheek” rash. This is a contagious viral illness with an incubation period of about 1-3 weeks. About 1 in 5 adults can have this infection without any symptoms.

Parvovirus B-19 is a concern during pregnancy because the virus can lead to an infection in the fetus, particularly affecting the fetal bone marrow. This can lead to decreased production of fetal red blood cells, causing fetal anemia and possibly a serious condition called fetal hydrops. Frequent ultrasounds can be used to monitor the pregnancy for signs of hydrops, and in severe cases intrauterine blood transfusion can be done to treat the fetal anemia.

There is no vaccination and no treatment.

Precautions include: frequent hand washing, avoid mouth-to-mouth kissing; do not share any cups or silverware. A blood test can be done to check for existing immunity. More than 50% of women are already immune to Parvovirus B-19.

What if I think I have been exposed?

We can do a blood test to check for immunity, called IgG. Many people are already immune to Parvovirus B19, and if this is the case, then you cannot get infected again. Please call us right away if you think you may have been exposed to Fifth disease.