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Parvovirus B19

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Electron micrograph of Parvoviruses in blood

Virus classification


Group II (ssDNA)






Parvovirus B19

The B19 virus, generally referred to as parvovirus B19[1] or sometimes erythrovirus B19,[2] was the first (and until 2005 the only) known human virus in the family of parvoviruses, genus erythrovirus. B19 virus causes a childhood rash called fifth disease or erythema infectiosum which is commonly called slapped cheek syndrome. [3][4] The virus was discovered by chance in 1975 by Australian virologist Yvonne Cossart.[4][5] It gained its name because it was discovered in well B19 of a large series of petri dishes labelled in this way.[4][6]

1 Virology 2 Transmission 3 Infectivity 4 Epidemiology 5 Role in disease

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5.1 Fifth disease 5.2 AIDS 5.3 Arthritis

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5.4 Aplastic crisis 5.5 Hydrops fetalis

6 See also 7 References 8 External links

Erythroviruses belong to the Parvoviridae family of small DNA viruses.[7] It is a non-enveloped, icosahedral virus that contains a single-stranded linear DNA genome. Approximately equal proportions of DNA of positive and negative sense are found in separate particles. At each end of the DNA molecule there are palindromic sequences which form "hairpin" loops. The hairpin at the3' end serves as a primer for the DNA polymerase.[8] It is classified as erythrovirus because of its capability to invade red blood cell precursors in the bone marrow.

The virus is primarily spread by infected respiratory droplets; blood-borne transmission, however, has been reported.[9] The secondary attack risk for exposed household persons is about 50%, and about half of that for classroom contacts.[4][10]

Symptoms begin some six days after exposure (between 4 and 28 days, with the average being 16 to 17 days [11]) and last about a week. Infected patients with normal immune systems are contagious before becoming symptomatic, but probably not after then.[12] Individuals with B19 IgG antibodies are generally considered immune to recurrent infection, but reinfection is possible in a minority of cases.[13] About half of adults are B19-immune due to a past infection.

A significant increase in the number of cases is seen every three to four years; the last epidemic year was 1998.[citation

Outbreaks can arise especially in nurseries and schools.

Parvovirus B19 causes an infection in humans only. Cat and dog parvoviruses do not infect humans. There is no vaccine available for human parvovirus B19,[14] though attempts have been made to develop one.[15] However, there is a vaccine available for parvovirus that infects small mammals.


in disease

Child showing signs of erythema infectiosum, also known as fifth disease.



Fifth disease or erythema infectiosum is only one of several expressions of Parvovirus B19. Any age may be affected, although it is most common in children aged six to ten years, it is so named, because it was the fifth pink-red infectious rash to be described by physicians. After being infected, patients usually develop the illness after an incubation period of four to fourteen days. The disease commences with fever and malaise while the virus is most abundant in the bloodstream, and patients are usually no longer infectious once the characteristic rash of this disease has appeared. [14] Teenagers or young adults may develop the so called "Papular Purpuric Gloves and Socks Syndrome". [14] Unlike young children, these patients may be infectious with this rash. [citation needed]

The "slapped cheek" appearance typical of fifth disease.

The rash of fifth disease is typically described as "slapped cheeks", with erythema across the cheeks and sparing the nasolabial folds, forehead, and mouth. Because of this rash, fifth disease is sometimes called "slapped cheek syndrome".[4] Fifth disease is also known for "lace-like" rashes on the arms, legs, torso, and back. These rashes can last for up to 5 weeks and are worse after sun exposure, exercise, or hot baths.[citation needed]

Parvovirus B19 is a cause of chronic anemia in individuals who have AIDS. It is frequently overlooked. Treatment with erythropoetin or intravenous immunoglobulin have been helpful in some patients. The parvovirus infection may trigger an inflammatory reaction in AIDS patients who have just begun antiretroviral therapy. [16]

In adults (and perhaps some children), parvovirus B19 can lead to a seronegative arthritis which is usually easily controlled with analgesics. Women are approximately twice as likely as men to experience arthritis after parvovirus infection. Possibly up to 15% of all new cases of arthritis are due to parvovirus, and a history of recent contact with a patient and positive serology generally confirms the diagnosis.[12] This arthritis does not progress to other forms of arthritis. Typically joint symptoms last 13 weeks, but in 1020% of those affected, it may last weeks to months.[4][14]



Although most patients have an arrest of erythropoiesis (production of red blood cells) during parvovirus infection, it is most dangerous in patients who have sickle cell anemia or hereditary spherocytosis, and are therefore heavily dependent on erythropoeisis due to the reduced lifespan of the red cells. This is termed "aplastic crisis" (also called reticulocytopenia). It is treated withblood transfusion.[4][14]



Micrograph showing viral changes in fetal red blood cells in a case of parvovirus infection. H&E stain.

Parvovirus infection in pregnant women is associated with hydrops fetalis due to severe fetal anemia, sometimes leading to miscarriage orstillbirth.[14][17] The risk of fetal loss is about 10% if infection occurs before pregnancy week 20 (especially between weeks 14 and 20), but minimal after then. Routine screening of the antenatal sample would enable the pregnant mother to determine the risk of infection.[citation needed] Knowledge of her status would allow the mother to avoid the risk of infection.[citation needed] The risk to the fetus will be reduced with correct diagnosis of the anemia (byultrasound scans) and treatment (by blood transfusions). There is some evidence that intrauterine Parvovirus B19 infection leads to developmental abnormalities in childhood.[18]