Parvovirus B19

Parvovirus B19- Opportunistic, Chronic or Tick Borne?

Parvoviruses are some of the smallest viruses found in nature. Patients with chronic Lyme disease may test positive for parvovirus B19. Studies are needed to determine if parvovirus is reactivated after a Lyme infection in some people, if it is passed along by ticks with Lyme bacteria and many other known coinfections or if it is a chronic illness that can surface when the immune system is busy fighting new infections.

What is parvovirus B19 (aka “fifth disease or slapped-cheek syndrome)?”

Parvo B-19 is an illness that occurs most commonly in children. The child may have a “slapped-cheek” rash on the face and/or a lacy red rash on the trunk and limbs. Occasionally, the rash may itch. The child may have a fever, malaise, or a “cold” a few days before the rash breaks out. The rash may disappear on its own, with no treatment.

What causes parvovirus B19?

This particular virus (B19) infects humans. Pet dogs or cats may be immunized against “parvovirus,” but these are animal parvoviruses that are not known to infect humans. Therefore, a child cannot “catch” parvovirus from a pet dog or cat, and a pet cat or dog cannot catch human parvovirus B19 from an ill child.  (See link for article)



Great reminder that COVID is not the only enemy out there.

A few points:

  • Adults can get B19 as well.
  • Patients with B19, as with any other virus, can also be asymptomatic (don’t have symptoms). About 20% don’t develop symptoms at all.
  • Besides the tell-tale facial rash, joint pain/swelling is also common.  Joints most affected are hands, wrists, and knees. Pain may resolve quickly or last months or even years.
  • B19 is contagious before the rash appears. It has been found in respiratory secretions and the patient appears to “just have a cold.”
  • Like most viruses, it takes 3-14 days to become infected and lasts up to 3 weeks.
  • Similarly to the EM rash being diagnostic for Lyme, the rash for B19 is also diagnostic. A blood test may be done to look for antibodies.
  • While B19 is typically mild, it can cause serious illness in those with sickle-cell or anemia (the rash rarely appears with these cases). Also, those with cancers, immune deficiencies, beneficiaries of organs, or who have HIV are also at risk for more severe illness.
  • While the article states that the only treatment is palliative care (aspirin, anti-itch medication, fluids, rest, etc.) there is also blood ozone, IV supplements, immune globulin, and anti-virals.

The article brings up a very important point: do ticks and other insects transmit these viruses (they are known to transmit many other viruses) directly or do they reactivate latent viruses within the body or both?  My wager is that both occur.

Lyme/MSIDS have been struggling with viruses due to tick-borne illness for decades. Here’s a list:

  • EBV(epstein-barr virus)
  • herpes
  • powassan
  • bourbon virus
  • deer-tick virus
  • heartland virus
  • Colorado tick fever
  • tick-borne encephalitis
  • Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever
  • Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (caused by SFTS virus)

The best treatment is to treat the underlying tick-borne infections and strengthen the immune system with adjunctive therapies that support the body. Also, many find anti-viral agents very helpful.

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