Parvovirus infection, a common childhood illness, explained by Dr Lih Yi

What is Parvovirus infection?

Parvovirus infection is a common viral infection usually affecting children between the ages of 3-15 years. Other names for parvovirus infection include slapped cheek disease/syndrome, fifth disease, erythema infectiosum, parvovirus B19.

What symptoms does parvovirus infection cause?

It may not cause any symptoms at all in 25% of cases. It commonly causes a mild fever and other symptoms like headaches, runny nose, sore throat. These symptoms last a few days and a rash may appear 7-10days after this. The typical rash of parvovirus infection involves the cheeks  and looks as if the cheek(s) have been slapped. The rash is not painful.  Sometimes, a faint rash may develop on the body, arms and legs. Sometimes, infected adults may also experience mild pain and stiffness in the joints for a few days.

What is the treatment?

No treatment is usually required. Simple painkillers like paracetamol or ibuprofen can be used help ease the headache, fever or any aches and pains. Persons who have the infection are advised to avoid contact with pregnant women and any people who have weakened immune systems eg people who have cancer, organ transplants, blood disorders.

Can parvovirus infection be prevented?

There is no vaccine that prevents this infection. Good and frequent handwashing reduces the chances of the infection being spread to other people. Patients who have the infection are no longer infectious once the rash appears. A person would have lifelong immunity after one attack of parvovirus infection.

Can parvovirus infection be dangerous?

  • In healthy, non- pregnant individuals, the infection is usually mild and does not cause any complications.
  • People with weakened immune systems and serious blood disorders (eg sickle cell disease, beta-thalassaemia, hereditary spherocytosis) may develop a more serious infection and are advised to seek medical attention if they have been in contact with the virus.
  • Most pregnant women are immune to parvovirus infection and will not have any complications if they come into contact with the virus. However, sometimes parvovirus can harm the unborn baby. If you develop a rash during your pregnancy or come into contact with another person with a rash, you should seek medical advice.

If you would like a copy of this article for future reference or information you can download a PDF version by clicking on the link Parvovirus infection, a common childhood illness, explained by Dr Lih Yih

Dr Tan Lih Yi  is a very experienced Family Physician having enjoyed practicing medicine in the multi-cultural society residing in Birmingham and the West Midlands. Dr Lih Yi is based in our Camden clinic, to book an appointment please call: 6465 4440 or click here:


Insurance companies we work with

Book online with IMC today

The International Medical Clinic is here to help! Booking online is the most convenient way to lock in the doctor, location & time you would like.