Acute Human Parvovirus B-19 Infection in Hospitalized Children: A Serologic and Molecular Survey

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The extent and clinical manifestations of acute human parvovirus B19 (B19) infection were assessed in previously healthy hospitalized children admitted with clinical syndromes potentially associated the virus.

Patients and Methods:

The study was prospective and was conducted between October 2002 and August 2004 in the pediatric departments of 3 hospitals in Israel. The survey included previously healthy children who were hospitalized with 1 or more of the following acute diseases: acute nonallergic exanthema, fever for >1 week, aplastic anemia or pancytopenia, acute nonbacterial arthropathy, immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), Henoch-Schönlein purpura (HSP) and aseptic meningitis. A control group of children with a proven, non-B19 infection was also studied. Serum samples obtained from each child on admission were tested for B19 DNA by real-time PCR and B19 IgM by ELISA. Acute B19 infection was defined by the following criteria: positive serum B19-DNA and/or B19 IgM, negative serum B19 IgG, and no other proven infection.


Overall, 167 children were included in the study. The mean age was 5.5 ± 4.6 years (range, 0.5–17), males and females equally divided. Acute B19 infection was demonstrated in 12.6% (n = 21) of the children. Both tests were performed in 19 children and were positive in 10 (53%). In 7 and 2 children, only B19-DNA or B19 IgM, respectively, was positive. Acute B19 infection was documented in 27% (10/39) of children who presented with a variety of acute exanthema diseases; 9% (5/57) of children with acute arthropathy (all 5 had transient synovitis); 10% (2/21) of children with fever >1 week, both presented as mononucleosis syndrome; and in 44% (4/9) of children with transient pancytopenia or aplastic anemia. No acute B19 infection was demonstrated in 15 children with ITP, 9 with HSP, and 6 with aseptic meningitis and among 70 children in the control group. By logistic regression analysis, manifestations significantly associated with acute B19 infection were exanthema (OR 2.9; 95% CI = 1.1–7.5), anemia (OR 6.35; 95% CI = 2.2–18.2) and leucopenia (OR 4.14; 95% CI =1.2–14.2).


Acute B19 infection was documented among 12.6% of children hospitalized with clinical syndrome potentially associated with the virus. Clinical and laboratory features associated with acute B19 infection were exanthema, anemia and leucopenia. Determination of both serum B19-DNA and serum B19 IgM should be performed for the accurate diagnosis of acute B19 infection.

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