Cerebrovascular complications and parvovirus infection in homozygous sickle cell disease

J Pediatr. 2001 Sep;139(3):438-42. doi: 10.1067/mpd.2001.117070.


Human parvovirus B19 infection causes most clinically defined aplastic crises in homozygous sickle cell (SS) disease. With transfusion support, the outcome is generally benign; however, cerebrovascular complications in close temporal association with B19-induced aplastic crises have been described. We carried out a retrospective review, between 1978 and 1999, of 346 aplastic crises in patients with SS disease attending the Sickle Cell Clinic of the University Hospital of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica. Six cerebrovascular episodes, 5 with hemiplegia, occurred within 2 days of aplastic crises; and 4, all with features of encephalitis, occurred within 2 to 5 weeks. Hemiplegia in 2 children resolved completely, one is improving, and one persists 20 years later; one patient died from recurrent strokes. Of the 4 children whose events occurred later, all had seizure disorders and 2 had transient cortical blindness. The crude risk of cerebrovascular episodes in the 5-week interval after B19 infection was calculated as 58 times greater than expected, which is suggestive of a causal association.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anemia, Sickle Cell / complications*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Jamaica
  • Male
  • Parvoviridae Infections* / complications*
  • Parvovirus B19, Human*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Stroke / complications*