Parvovirus Infection in Humans: Incubation, Transmission, Symptoms, Treatment


Parvovirus is classified as a ss-DNA viruses made up of single stranded DNA. The parvovirus is subtype in two groups. Group one is named Parvovirinae and causes infection in vertebrate e.g. human, while group two is called the Densovirinae, which infects invertebrates e.g. starfish. Viruses spread into gastrointestinal and lymphatic system.


Incubation Period of Parvovirus Infection in Humans

Viral infection is observed in pet animal like dogs. The parvovirus infection does not transmit from animal to human by contact. The incubation period for viral infection to express symptoms and signs of infection is 7 to 14 days.

Transmission of Parvovirus Infection in Humans

Parvovirus infection is contagious like all viral infection. The viruses are exchange and transmitted through contact with saliva, sputum and nasal secretion. Rarely in few cases viruses are transmitted through blood transfusion in humans. The virus is often present in blood of asymptomatic donor who may be suffering with parvovirus infection. Transmission of parvovirus infection is also observed in individual who are sharing needles.

Clinical Manifestation of Parvovirus or Symptoms of Parvovirus in Humans


Parvovirus Infection is asymptomatic in 20% of patients.

In most people affected with parvovirus, following symptoms are observed-

Facial Rash-

Facial rash is often seen in children and the parvovirus is often known as slapped cheek disease or fifth disease. Rash caused by parvovirus in humans is bright red in color and eruption are observed above the surface of the skin. The parvovirus rash may disappear after 2 to 3 days following initial appearance and then reappear after few days. Rash may extend into buttocks, leg and upper body. Rash caused by parvovirus in asymptomatic patient is often mistaken for contact dermatitis or drug allergy.

Upper Respiratory Tract Symptoms-

Parvovirus infection often appears in nose and throat. The infectious period of parvovirus may last 4 to 7 days and symptom may not progress to other part of the body. During this phase of parvovirus, child or adult feels body ache, sneezing, headache and mild fever along with running nose, throat pain and cough. Patient may recover with rest and symptomatic treatment.

GI Symptoms-

The parvovirus infection when spread to gastrointestinal system in human may cause vomiting and diarrhea. These symptoms are rare.

Joint Pain-

Joint pain is rare but may be observed in multiple joints same time. Polyarthritis often is associated with facial rash. Isolated polyarthritis is often diagnosed as injury or bacterial infection. The joint mostly affected are knee, wrist, elbow and ankle.

Hepatitis and Encephalopathy-

There are few scientific published case studies that suggest parvovirus does cause hepatitis and encephalopathy but very rarely.

Treatment of Parvovirus in Humans

Most of the asymptomatic children may not need any treatment for parvovirus infection. Patient suffering with fever caused due to parvovirus are treated with tylenol and motrin. Few adults with parvovirus infection may suffer with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. These patients are treated with oral frequent fluid or intravenous fluid and antidiarrheal oral liquid (Kaopectin) or pills (imodn). Facial rash is treated with moistening lotion or antiviral ointment. Joint pain caused by parvovirus infection is treated with rest and NSAIDs like motrin and naproxen.

Prevention of Parvovirus Infection in Humans

Vaccine for human parvovirus is not available but there are vaccines available for similar infection in dogs. The transmission of infection is prevented by frequent hand wash with soap. Avoid close contact with individual coughing and sneezing. Cover mouth and nose if one is suffering with symptoms like cough, sneezing and running nose to prevent transmission of infection to healthy individual. Avoid group and friends until symptoms are not observed.

Also Read:


  1. Exanthema associated with parvovirus B19 infection in adults. Drago F1, Ciccarese G2, Rebora A1., J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014 Dec;71(6):1256.

  2. Acute hepatitis and myositis associated with Erythema infectious by Parvovirus B19 in an adolescent. Koliou M1, Karaoli E, Soteriades ES, Pavlides S, Bashiardes S, Christodoulou C. BMC Pediatr. 2014 Jan 13;14:6.

  3. Clinical findings in parvovirus B19 infection in 30 adult patients in Kyoto. Oiwa H1, Shimada T, Hashimoto M, Kawaguchi A, Ueda T, Sugiyama E, Kamiya T., Mod Rheumatol. 2011 Feb;21(1):24-31.