CDC/ Dr. Philip S. Brachman, 1961,  ID #4509

I once heard it said, “Not everything is Lyme Disease, but Lyme Disease CAN BE EVERYTHING.”  

Rashes are now a part of your life.  Bizarre, hard to pin down, skin markings are your new norm.  Sometimes they itch, sometimes they burn – but everyone, including your doctor, scratches their head.  One such rash is caused by the human parvovirus B-19, a member of the Parvoviridae family of viruses that lives in the infected’s nose and throat.  It is spread via the air through coughing and sneezing, and is just one more pathogen that attacks the red blood cells.  It can also be spread congenitally and through blood products.

There is a blood test that is 92-97% specific which tests for a particular antibody or protein the body produces in response to the infection.  The patient has a bright red rash on the cheeks, and it appears as if the face were slapped.  Also, note that there can be joint pain often in the hands, knees, and feet.  Other symptoms include fever, headache, and a runny nose.

“Some people may get a second rash a few days later on their chest, back, buttocks, or arms and legs. The rash may be itchy, especially on the soles of the feet. It can vary in intensity and usually goes away in 7 to 10 days, but it can come and go for several weeks. As it starts to go away, it may look lacy.”

Other possible causes that need to be ruled out include:  rubella, Mono, allergic reactions, Lupus, and yes – Lyme Disease.

Coexistent lyme disease and parvovirus infection in a child

PMID: 17039169

2001 Oct;7(5):350-3; discussion 353.


Infectious diseases commonly cause illnesses that mimic rheumatic diseases. Both Lyme disease and Parvovirus B19 infections produce arthritis, rashes, and a systemic illness that may be thought to represent a chronic rheumatic disease. In the case presented, a child with both infections simultaneously exhibited arthralgias, aseptic meningitis, and a facial rash. The features of Lyme disease and Parvovirus B19 infection that may mimic systemic lupus erythematosus include a facial rash, often in a malar distribution, hematologic abnormalities, arthritis, neurologic disorders, and autoantibody positivity. Given the proper season and geographical location, one must consider the possibility of co-infection with these two organisms, especially in those with atypical rheumatic complaints.

Since this is a virus, there is no specific treatment, but there is much you can do to make your body a tough target.  Read here:  Also, please know that as you treat MSIDS, you are automatically making your body a tougher target for viruses as well.  Often, those that have a high ANA (antinuclear antibody), which is indicative of Lupus, are pleased to find that as they treat MSIDS, their numbers return to normal.  Even in a normal population, 20% have high ANA.  Other conditions that are possible are: thyroid disease, certain liver conditions, and other autoimmune diseases (i.e. Lyme Disease).

In the immunocompromised it can cause chronic anemia.

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