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The human parvovirus, also known as B19 virus or parvovirus B19, is a leading cause of autoimmune diseases in human beings. It causes an infection known as the parvovirus infection or the fifth disease. It is prominently seen in children. It is also known as slapped cheek syndrome. One of the most important things to note is that the parvovirus B19 only infects human beings. This is not the animal parvovirus.

Causes

As mentioned above, human parvovirus B19 causes infection in human beings. People of all age groups are susceptible to this disease, but it is commonly found in infants and children. It is a highly contagious condition and can be easily transmitted from one person to the other through respiratory droplets. However, parvovirus infection or fifth disease is contagious only in the initial phase, i.e. before the rash appears. Once the rash appears, the condition is no longer contagious. Parvovirus infection can be more severe in case of pregnant women and people suffering from anemia and different types of cancer. The parvovirus B19 is also believed to give rise to anemia in people suffering from AIDS.

Symptoms

The early symptoms of parvovirus infection are difficult to associate with this disease as they seem similar to common cold or flu (influenza). The following are the early signs to look for:
  • Slight fever
  • Sore throat
  • Malaise
  • Itching
  • Headache
Apart from these, the most distinctive symptom is the facial rash that appears within a week on the onset of the above mentioned symptoms. The rash, bright red and itchy, is a characteristic symptom of this condition. It prominently appears on the cheek, hence, the name 'slapped cheek syndrome'. Apart from the cheek, the rash also appears on other parts of the body like the arms, legs, and trunk. The rash caused due to parvovirus is also known as the glove and sock rash as it appears on those parts of the body. Parvovirus in pregnancy is a complicated condition as it can lead to disorders in the baby.

Treatment

The treatment depends on the severity of the condition. In case the person is not suffering from other disorders, he/she can be treated with the help of medications like non-steroidal and anti-inflammatory drugs, and other prescription drugs. Secondly, as it is a viral infection, it is essential to take plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids to get rid of the infection soon. On the other hand, in case people suffering from anemia contract parvovirus infection, they need to undertake different treatment than the traditional methods. Children and people with a compromised immune system should go for immune globulin injections for the same.

Unfortunately this disease cannot be prevented as it is detected in a far later stage. Therefore, it is essential to identify the symptoms early in order to treat it immediately. Take care!

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.