Parvovirus, historically known as fifth disease, is a very contagious infection caused by human parvovirus B19 and results in a distinct rash on the face, according to Mayo Clinic. Colloquially referred to as ﾓslapped cheek diseaseﾔ because of this rash, parvovirus is common in children but also occurs in adults.
Parvovirus in children typically requires minimal treatment since symptoms are usually mild, notes Mayo Clinic. The infection can be quite serious in adults, especially in pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems or anemia.
At its onset, parvovirus symptoms in children include upset stomach, fever, runny nose and headache, although most people who contract the infection remain asymptomatic. The facial rash that characterizes parvovirus in children may also appear on the trunk, arms, buttocks, thighs and soles of the feet, explains Mayo Clinic. The itchy rash, which usually occurs toward the end of the illness, can last up to three weeks and may appear intermittently. Once the rash appears, the infection is no longer contagious.
Adults with parvovirus do not usually develop a rash, states Mayo Clinic. Most adults experience joint soreness in the joints of the ankles, knees, wrists and hands that lasts anywhere from a few days to weeks. Notably, the parvovirus seen in humans and the parvovirus seen in pets are not the same, so humans cannot spread the infection to pets.