Fifth Disease: Viruses of the Parvoviridae Virus Family

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  • 0:06 Parvoviridae Virus Family
  • 0:38 Parvoviridae Structure…
  • 3:02 Fifth Disease and…
  • 5:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Learn about how one family of viruses can affect your entire family! We'll cover parvovirus B19, otherwise known as fifth disease or erythema infectiosum, as well as how this virus family can cause Hydrops Fetalis in babies and also affect your favorite pets.

The Parvoviridae Virus Family

Certain virus families are fun for the whole family! I'm being sarcastic. What I really mean is they can affect the adults, kids and even the pets in the household. They'll do so in really fun ways too! Well, maybe not fun for those who are infected. In addition, the humans affected by this virus family, are, in some ways, short-changed on viral infections compared to our pets, as you'll find out at the end of this lesson on the Parvoviridae virus family.

Parvoviridae Structure and Transmission

Viruses in this family are small and icosahedral in shape. They are not enveloped, and, are therefore, very resistant to environmental destruction. Their genome consists of single stranded DNA. Something really cool about the viruses in this family, the parvoviruses, are that they are some of the smallest DNA viruses known to humankind! This shouldn't come as a surprise, since the term 'parvus' means 'small' in Latin.

The viruses in this family that are of human concern are primarily spread by direct contact or through the respiratory route. Those of you who love dogs should be aware that dogs have a very severe form of parvovirus that affects their digestive tract, leading to potentially deadly vomiting, often-bloody diarrhea and other symptoms of infection. Therefore, transmission of these viruses can also occur by way of contact with surfaces or objects contaminated with infected fecal material. This is especially likely if your dog decides to stick its nose or mouth in infected fecal matter.

If you're a fan of cats, then you should know that cats are also not out of the danger zone when it comes to parvovirus infections. Cats can also get a type of parvovirus, commonly referred to as feline panleukopenia. This virus can easily kill a kitten due to some of the same reasons as canine parvovirus, but can also kill with no warning at all. Feline panleukopenia virus is also transmitted through feline bodily secretions and is, like all parvoviruses, highly contagious.

Regardless of the organism, be it human, dog, cat or something else, the viruses of this family are extremely contagious, and you're unlikely to escape their wrath if you are near an infected individual. However, you won't get parvovirus from your dog or cat as the canine and feline parvoviruses I talked about are not zoonotic, meaning these same viruses aren't contagious to humans. Since you're not a dog or a cat, you don't have to worry about catching a parvovirus from your pet.

Fifth Disease and Heart Failure

But, and there is a big but here, you do have to worry about catching something known as parvovirus B19 from another human. Parvovirus B19 is a virus that causes a condition called fifth disease. Fifth disease is a disease characterized by a rash, stereotypically on the face and cheeks, that is most common in children.

The more technical term for fifth disease is erythema infectiosum and can be easily remembered. The term 'erythema' refers to the reddening of the skin associated with this disease. 'Infect' in 'infectiosum' refers to the ease of infectivity that is so characteristic of parvoviruses. The suffix -osum means that something is full of or prone to something. In this case, it means prone to infection.

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