Parvovirus B19 infections are common throughout the world but the seroprevalence is a little bit higher in developing countries (caused by poor and crowded living standards) (1).
The seroprevalence increases with age and studies have shown that 15% of preschool children, 50% of younger adults and about 85% of the elderly have serological evidence of past infection (1).
Parvovirus B19 infection is not a notifiable disease in UK. The precise number of infected cases is difficult to calculate since surveillance of the disease relies on laboratory-confirmed cases (2).
Outbreaks of the infection occur every 3-4 years with a seasonal peak in the first half of each year. Recent epidemic years have been 1989-1990, 1993-1994 and 1997- 1998
- 50% of susceptible individuals who are exposed at home to a family member with parvovirus B19 may acquire the infection
- 10-60% of students may get the infection during school outbreaks
- 20% of infected adults and children will not develop any symptoms
- some may present with non specific illnesses which is not related to the disease (3)
- 1. Broliden K, Tolfvenstam T, Norbeck O. Clinical aspects of parvovirus B19 infection. J Intern Med. 2006;260(4):285-304
- 2. Health Protection Agency (HPA) 2008. General information on parvovirus: parvovirus B19 (Slapped cheek syndrome, Fifth disease or Erythema infectiosum) - general information
- 3. Health Protection Agency (HPA) 2007. Investigation of red rash. QSOP 56. Issued by standards unit, evaluations and standards laboratory. Centre for infections
Last reviewed 01/2018