This freckle-nosed child displays the facial erythema, or slapped-cheek appearance, typical of erythema infectiosum. The self-limited disease is caused by parvovirus B19. The condition is also known as fifth disease because it was classified after rubeola, scarlet fever, rubella, and Filatov-Dukes disease in an early 1900s’ scheme of childhood exanthems.
The constitutional symptoms of erythema infectiosum, such as headache, are generally mild. The initial facial erythema progresses to the trunk and extremities as maculopapular lesions that evolve into a lacy, reticulated appearance. Mild arthritis is seen occasionally in children with the disease but occurs more commonly in infected adults.
Parvovirus B19 may trigger aplastic crisis in children with any form of underlying, chronic hemolytic condition, including sickle-cell disease and thalassemia. Differentiation of erythema infectiosum from rubeola, rubella, and enteroviral infections generally is based on clinical observation of the eruption and exclusion of the other diseases.
There is no specific treatment for this infection.