parvovirus (pärˌvōvĪˈrəs) [key], any of several small DNA viruses that cause several diseases in animals, including humans. In humans, parvoviruses cause fifth disease, or erythema infectiosum, an acute disease usually affecting young children. Symptoms include a rash that spreads from the cheeks (hence the common name slap-cheek disease) to the extremities, low fever, fatigue, and, in adults, mild to severe joint pain and swelling. Treatment consists of bed rest, fluids, and acetaminophen for the fever. Parvoviruses have also been associated with aplastic anemia, arthritis, and spontaneous abortion in humans.
Dogs, wolves, and coyotes can become infected with canine parvovirus. Puppies are most susceptible to the virus, which causes diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. There was an outbreak of canine parvovirus in the United States in 1978, and it has become more common worldwide since then. Feline distemper, also called feline panleukopenia, an often fatal disease of cats, raccoons, and minks caused by a parvovirus, is characterized by fever, dehydration, loss of appetite, and a reduction in white blood cells. Annual vaccination against parvoviruses is routine in cats and dogs.