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Erythema Infectiosum

Erythema Infectiosum is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Characteristic viral exanthem also known as 5th disease:
    • 5th most common childhood rash historically described
    • Measles (1st), scarlet fever (2nd), rubella (3rd), Duke disease (4th), roseola (6th)
  • Common symptoms: Viral prodrome followed by slapped-cheek rash and subsequent diffuse reticular rash +/– arthropathy
  • Most common in school-aged children <14 yr
  • Usually self-limited with lasting immunity
  • Rare complications and chronic cases in patients with congenital anemias or immunosuppression
  • Potential for severe complications to fetus if infection acquired during pregnancy
  • Possible link to encephalopathy, epilepsy, meningitis, myocarditis, dilated cardiomyopathy, autoimmune hepatitis, HSP, ITP


  • Caused by human parvovirus B19, small SS-DNA virus:
    • Infects human erythroid progenitor cells, suppressing erythropoiesis
  • Most common in late winter and spring
  • Transmitted via respiratory droplets and blood products as well as vertical maternal–fetal transmission
  • Incubation period 4–21 days
  • Most contagious during the week PRIOR to rash onset
  • Majority of adults have serologic evidence of prior infection

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Erythema Infectiosum." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307389/all/Erythema_Infectiosum.
Erythema Infectiosum. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307389/all/Erythema_Infectiosum. Accessed April 26, 2019.
Erythema Infectiosum. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307389/all/Erythema_Infectiosum
Erythema Infectiosum [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 26]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307389/all/Erythema_Infectiosum.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Erythema Infectiosum ID - 307389 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307389/all/Erythema_Infectiosum PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -