The classic childhood presentation is a 'slapped cheek' appearance followed by a reticular, erythematous eruption that is predominantly found on the extremities and may be preceded by mild systemic symptoms. Adults, more than children, may report arthritis and arthralgias.
Most cases do not require specific treatment beyond symptomatic therapy and reassurance.
Infection in pregnant women may result in fetal anaemia, hydrops fetalis, or intrauterine death.
Persistent infection, lasting longer than approximately 3 weeks and accompanied by chronic anaemia, may occur in people who are immunosuppressed (e.g., patients with HIV, people receiving chemotherapy or immunosuppression following transplant, or patients with congenital immunodeficiencies).
People with a high RBC turnover/destruction (e.g., those with hereditary spherocytosis, sickle cell disease, thalassaemia, iron deficiency anaemia) may develop transient aplastic crisis.
Erythema infectiosum is a childhood illness caused by infection with parvovirus B19. A 'slapped cheek' appearance with a lacy eruption on the torso and extremities is the most common presentation. Parvovirus B19 infection can also be associated with arthropathy and a purpuric cutaneous eruption. Select populations may be at risk for chronic anaemia or transient aplastic crises. Fetal complications include hydrops fetalis and intrauterine fetal demise.
Assistant Professor of Dermatology and Pediatrics CUMC
Columbia University Medical Center
CTL was a participant in the 2014 Leo Pharma Advisory Panel.
Dr Christine T. Lauren would like to gratefully acknowledge Dr Jon Dyer and Dr Jennifer Holman, the previous contributors to this monograph. JD and JH declare that they have no competing interests.
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