Parvovirus B19 and Fifth Disease

Parvovirus B19 infects only humans. It most commonly causes fifth disease, a mild rash illness that usually affects children. But it can cause different signs and symptoms, depending on your age and overall health. Many people infected with parvovirus B19 do not have any symptoms, or they have only mild, nonspecific rash illness, not unlike the common cold.

Parvovirus B19 Infects Only Humans

Since parvovirus B19 infects only humans, a person cannot catch the virus from a pet dog or cat. Also, a cat or dog cannot catch parvovirus B19 from an infected person.

Pet dogs and cats can get infected with other parvoviruses that do not infect humans. You can get your pets vaccinated to prevent infection from such parvoviruses.

Parvovirus B19 and Other Illnesses

Parvovirus B19 can cause severe anemia (a condition in which the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells).

This is not very common but can be serious for people with

  • weakened immune systems
  • sickle cell disease or similar long-lasting anemia
Symptoms of Fifth Disease

Fifth disease commonly affects children. Symptoms may include

  • fever
  • runny nose
  • headache
  • rash
  • a“slapped cheek” rash on the face is the most recognized feature of fifth disease, especially in children

Some people may also have painful or swollen joints, which is more common in adults.