Parvovirus B 19 (fifth disease)

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Parvovirus B19

What are parvoviruses?

Parvoviruses are unenveloped viruses of the genus Erythrovirus and belong to the family of Parvoviridae. Parvovirus B 19 can cause erythema infectiosum – commonly called the fifth disease, as it is one of the five childhood diseases that cause skin rashes. As a rule, people are immune to the virus after the first infection. Informally it is referred to as the “slapped cheek” syndrome, because the rash causes red and slightly swollen cheeks.

How are parvoviruses transmitted?

Parvoviruses are usually transmitted via droplet infection or saliva. An infected person spreads the viruses by sneezing, coughing and blowing their nose. If other people inhale these parvoviruses, they can also become infected. A smear infection is also possible through contaminated saliva droplets on the skin and objects. In such cases, an infection then takes place by direct transmission.

What are symptoms of the disease?

The fifth disease often goes unnoticed or is perceived as a mild flu-like infection. The disease generally manifests itself as a blotchy rash that initially spreads butterfly-like across both cheeks. One to two days later, it appears on the arms and legs, hands and feet. The rash fades after one to one and a half weeks. It is rarely accompanied by itching, occasionally by a feeling of tight or swollen skin.

In childhood patients, the spots are usually accompanied by slight fever and discomfort. Adults often suffer from rheumatic complaints such as inflammation of the joints. In rare cases, anaemia can occur, leading to fatigue, lethargy, pallor and a higher pulse.

Significance for infections in hospitals and in the outpatient sector

Patients with fifth disease should be isolated from areas where there are immunosuppressed persons, pregnant women and children. In some federal states, laboratories must report detection of the parvovirus B 19.

Survival time of pathogens on inanimate surfaces

More than one year

Disinfectant effectiveness for prevention

The required spectrum of activity against the parvovirus B19 is: virucidal.

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