What is the pathophysiology of erythema infectiosum (fifth disease)?

Updated: Mar 06, 2020
  • Author: Glenn L Zellman, MD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Human PV-B19, a member of the family Parvoviridae, is a heat-stable, single-stranded DNA virus [10] ; it is the only parvovirus known to cause disease in humans.

The development of erythema infectiosum in children is a normal response to infection by PV-B19. Acute infection in a host who is immunocompetent leads to a Th-1–mediated cellular immune response, with the production of specific immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies and subsequent formation of immune complexes. Clinical signs and symptoms of erythema infectiosum probably result from the deposition of the immune complexes in the skin and joints of individuals with this condition and not from the circulating virus. [11] The incubation period is usually 7-10 days, but it can be 4-21 days. Extremely high viral loads are noted in patients with aplastic crisis, but low-level persistent polymerase chain reaction positivity in tissues is also common among adults in a variety of tissues. [12, 13]

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