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Slapped face disease - Parvovirus B19 infection

Parvovirus; B19; infection; fifth; disease; slapped; cheek; face; erythema; infectiosum;

Parvovirus B19 infection may also be called fifth disease, slapped cheek, slapped face, erythema infectiosum. This information comes from the SA Health website (link below).

Parvovirus B19 is a virus that commonly infects humans. Dogs and cats may be immunised against ‘parvovirus’, but these are animal parvoviruses that do not infect humans.

Parvovirus B19 infection is spread when an infected person talks, coughs or sneezes small droplets containing infectious agents into the air. The droplets in the air may be breathed in by those nearby. Infection may be spread by contact with hands, tissues and other articles soiled by infected nose and throat discharges.

Once the rash appears, the person is no longer infectious. An exception to this is in infected people with immune suppression, who may remain infectious for months.

Signs and symptoms


About 20% of infected children will have no symptoms at all. In others, early in the infection there may be mild cold-like symptoms, then 2 to 5 days later, the child typically develops a ‘slapped cheek’ rash on the face and a lacy red rash on the trunk and limbs.


Infection by parvovirus B19 generally causes only a mild illness. However, if a pregnant woman is infected, the infection may be transmitted to her unborn baby. In less than 5% of cases, parvovirus B19 infection may cause the unborn baby to have severe anaemia (low blood count) and the woman may have a miscarriage. This occurs more commonly if infection occurs during the first half of pregnancy. There is no evidence that parvovirus B19 infection causes birth defects or mental retardation.

To find out more

Sydney Children's Hospital Network 

South Australian Department of Health 

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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Parent Helpline on 1300 364 100 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).

This topic may use 'he' and 'she' in turn - please change to suit your child's sex.

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