How Parvovirus B19 Spreads

In the United States, people tend to get infected with parvovirus B19 more often in late winter, spring, and early summer. Minor outbreaks of parvovirus B19 infection occur about every 3 to 4 years.

Parvovirus B19 can spread:

  • From person to person through:
    • Respiratory droplets, such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus
    • Blood or blood products
  • During pregnancy (from mother to baby)

A person is most contagious early in their infection, when they will typically just have a fever or cold-like symptoms.  They are not likely to be contagious after they get later symptoms such as rash and joint pains, so it is usually safe to go back to work or school when the rash appears.

People with parvovirus B19 infection who have weakened immune systems may be contagious for a longer amount of time.

Since parvovirus B19 only infects people, a person cannot get the virus from a dog or cat. Also, dogs and cats cannot get parvovirus B19 from an infected person. Pet dogs and cats can get infected with other parvoviruses that do not infect people. Dogs and cats can be vaccinated to protect them from these parvoviruses.