Parvovirus B19

Young child holding his face between his hands and smiling

Parvovirus B19 is part of a family of viruses that can cause infection. Most parvoviruses infect animals, such as cats and dogs.  People cannot get infected with these parvoviruses. Dogs and cats can get vaccinated to protect them from parvoviruses that commonly affect them.

Parvovirus B19 only infects people. It does not infect animals. Someone with a parvovirus B19 infection may have a range of symptoms depending on their age and overall health.

One of the common presentations of parvovirus B19 infection is Fifth disease (or Erythema Infectiosum). Fifth disease is typically recognized by the hallmark “slapped cheek” rash. It occurs most often in young children. Fifth disease got its name because it was fifth in a list of historical classifications of common skin rash illnesses in children.

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 occur about every 3 to 4 years.