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Am Fam Physician. 2007;75(3):377

See related article on parvovirus B19.

What is parvovirus B19?

Parvovirus B19 is a virus that causes an infection. Most people get it in late winter or early spring.

Adults with the virus may have pain in their joints. Children may have a rash and fever called fifth disease. The virus also can cause cold-like symptoms.

Sometimes it causes more serious problems. It can make a problem that you already have worse (for example, sickle cell disease or anemia).

Pregnant women who get the virus can have problems with the pregnancy and might lose the baby.

What should I do if my child has fifth disease?

You can ask your doctor if you should give your child medicine to lower the fever.

The disease can cause a rash on the cheeks that usually goes away after one to four days. After it goes away, another rash can appear on other parts of the body. The second rash usually goes away after one to six weeks. These rashes are harmless and don't need treatment.

If you think your child has fifth disease, he or she should stay away from pregnant women. But after the rash appears, the child can't give the virus to anyone.

What should I do if I have a parvovirus B19 infection?

Adults can take medicine to help with joint pain. The pain usually goes away within three weeks.

See your doctor if you are pregnant and have the virus or have been around someone who might have it. Your doctor can give you a test to see if you have antibodies. Antibodies protect you from the virus. If you don't have antibodies, your doctor may monitor your pregnancy more closely.

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