While the parvovirus can infect all humans, it particularly affects young children, notes the Mayo Clinic. The Mayo Clinic goes on to report that parvovirus is often called slapped-cheek disease. This is because the rash that occurs with the parvovirus infection is distinctive and typically appears as bright red on the face of a child. For children, the parvovirus is not typically serious and will pass. The infection can have more severe effects for unborn babies when their pregnant mothers are infected. It also can be a problem for people with immune system problems and anemia.
As previously mentioned, the parvovirus infection is also called slapped-cheek disease, because the most obvious sign of it is a bright-red rash that appears, usually on the cheeks. However, this symptom generally appears after earlier symptoms. The Mayo Clinic reports that this rash typically signals the final stage of the infection. It may spread from the face to other parts of the body, as well. For example, it can occur on your buttocks, thighs, torso and arms. In these areas, the rash may look a bit different--it may be raised above the rest of the skin. It also may be pink, rather than red, and appear lace-like. In all areas, the rash generally will cause itching.
Because the parvovirus is a virus like the influenza virus, it can produce similar symptoms. For example, you may experience soreness in your throat, and you may get a headache. There may be a low-grade fever with the parvovirus, and you may have stomach problems. The most common of these types of symptoms is an upset stomach that can feel queasy and nauseous. Fatigue and bodily weakness are other common symptoms of the parvovirus in many children. It may make them feel as if they have been playing hard all day, even when they are resting from the illness. These all are early symptoms of the infection.
When adults get infected with the parvovirus, they may have different types of symptoms than those normally associated with the disease in children. For example, the rash does not typically appear in adults, nor do the flu-like symptoms. Instead, adults tend to feel soreness in their joints, primarily in the ankles, knees, wrists and hands. Also, the symptoms may last as long as a few weeks. The Mayo Clinic recommends seeking medical attention for women who are pregnant, for children and adults who have an immune system that is impaired, and for people with sickle cell anemia.