Parvovirus B19 (B19V) is a small non-enveloped single-stranded DNA virus. It belongs to the genus Erythroparvovirus within the Parvovirinae subfamily, and is a member of the Parvoviridae family of viruses. B19V is highly infectious and is commonly transmitted from human-to-human through infected respiratory secretions. The virus can also be transmitted through B19V infected blood products, transplant material, and from mother-to-foetus during pregnancy 1 (CDC).
B19V infection commonly occurs in childhood but can occur in some adults that have not been previously exposed to the virus. In healthy individuals, B19V causes erythema infectiosum, which is generally a mild disease that is also known as fifth disease. The disease is characterised by a facial rash, which can later appear on the trunk and limbs, and is associated with mild fever and cold-like symptoms. In some adult cases, patients may present with joint pain and swelling that can continue for several months. Other symptoms of B19V infection have been described including anaemia in immunocompromised patients, and a transient decrease in erythropoiesis in cases of sickle-cell anaemia 2 (Rogo, LD. et al).
Diagnosis of B19V infection is generally performed using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) to detect B19V specific IgM or IgG antibodies in the patient’s serum. Currently there is no licenced vaccine available or specific antiviral therapy for the treatment of B19V infection.
- Centers for disease control and prevention: Parvovirus and Fifth disease
- Rogo, LD et. al. (2014). Human parvovirus B19: a review. Acta Virol.58:199-213.
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