This problem is caused by a virus called parvovirus B19. It is found in saliva, sputum, and mucus. It is spread from person to person through contact with these fluids.
It can also spread through blood. A pregnant woman who is infected can pass the virus to her baby.
This problem is more common in children. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are at high risk of severe illness.
Other things that may raise the risk are:
- Contact with an infected person
- Jobs that require close contact with infected people, such as healthcare workers and teachers
- Exposure to contaminated blood or blood products
Some people do not have symptoms. Those who do may have mild flu-like symptoms, such as:
- Stuffy or runny nose
People may also have a bright red rash on their face. It may spread to the face, trunk, arms, and legs. Adults may also have joint pain and swelling.
Most people get better on their own with rest. Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems will need to be monitored closely for problems.
Supportive care during recovery may include:
- Over the counter pain relievers
- Corticosteroids to ease joint pain
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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