Parvovirus B19 (Slapped Cheek Syndrome, Fifth Disease or Erythema Infectiosum)

Parvovirus B19 causes slapped cheek syndrome which is usually a mild self-limiting viral illness and is very common in childhood. Infection is more likely after contact with an infectious person in a household setting rather than an occupational (school) setting. Simple hygiene measures including careful hand washing provide the most effective method of prevention and control of this viral disease. There is no vaccine available.

Infection due to Parvovirus B19 can affect all age groups but is more common in children than adults. About 60% of adults have been infected at some point during their lives and cannot be re-infected. In rare cases infection during pregnancy can be harmful to the developing baby. Most pregnant women, especially women who work with children, are already immune to parvovirus and therefore do not become infected. Also in rare cases, infection in people with chronic red blood cell disorders (e.g. sickle-cell disease or spherocytosis) or whose immune system is significantly weakened, may result in severe anaemia requiring treatment.

Parvovirus B19 only infects humans and cannot be picked up from animals. It spreads from person-to-person. Parvovirus B19 virus has a natural cycle; every three to five years, an increase in the number of infections occurs. It is a seasonal disease, with increases in infection in late spring and early summer.

Parvovirus B19 is not a notifiable disease in Ireland, therefore laboratory test data from the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL) is displayed.

Parvovirus graph 2017

Parvovirus B19 in Ireland, 2017

215 The number of positive parvovirus B19 tests in 2017
4.5 The national rate of positive tests per 100,000 population in 2017

Last updated: 27 September 2018