Parvovirus B19 causes the childhood illness known as erythema infectiosum or fifth disease. It's also known as slapped cheek syndrome due to the development of a bright red rash on the cheeks of those infected. Infection usually causes a mild febrile illness but those with certain types of anemia or who are immunocompromised are at risk of complications. Infection in pregnant women during the first trimester can lead to hydrops fetalis in the fetus which may cause spontaneous miscarriage.
Parvovirus B19 is usually spread through respiratory secretions but can also be transmitted by blood and blood components. Cases are most infectious before symptoms develop and the incubation period is usually four to 14 days.
Read guidance for the control of parvovirus B19 infection in healthcare settings and the community on the Journal of Public Health from Oxford University Press.
Read guidance on viral rash in pregnancy on the Public Health England (PHE) website.
For all infection prevention and control guidance visit the A-Z pathogens section of the National Infection and Prevention Control Manual.