Epidemiology of high-level parvovirus B19 viraemia among Dutch blood donors, 2003-2009

Vox Sang. 2011 Apr;100(3):261-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1423-0410.2010.01423.x. Epub 2010 Oct 15.


Background and objectives: Plasma derivatives and blood components with low levels of parvovirus B19 (B19) seem not infectious, but recently infected, highly viraemic donors may transmit B19. We studied the incidence of high-level B19 viraemia (B19 DNA>10(6) IU/ml) in 6.5 million Dutch blood donations.

Materials and methods: Between 2003 and 2009, all Dutch blood and plasma donations were screened for the presence of B19 DNA, via pools of 480. Reactive pools were resolved and demographic parameters were obtained for all donors with B19 viraemia>10(6) IU/ml. In a subset, IgG and IgM antibodies to B19 were determined.

Results: Four hundred and eleven donations (1/15815) were identified with B19 DNA levels above 10(6) IU/ml, predominantly (83%) occurring in donors aged 18-47 years. Each year infection rates were elevated between December and July, with April accounting for 16% of infections. The years 2004 and 2009 were epidemic, with up to 1/4880 highly viraemic donations in May 2004. In a subset of 67 viraemic donations, 47/67 (70%) tested negative for IgG and IgM antibodies to B19; 16/67 (24%) showed isolated IgM and 4/67 (6%) contained IgG and IgM antibodies. The seasonal pattern of asymptomatic B19 infection in blood donors followed the notification rate of clinical cases. Geographically, B19 infection was randomly spread over the Netherlands.

Conclusions: In epidemic seasons, blood donations with high levels of parvovirus, without concurrent antibodies, are common. They may infect immunocompromised and parvovirus-naïve recipients. The feasibility of preventive measures should be studied.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Donors*
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Epidemics
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Parvoviridae Infections / blood
  • Parvoviridae Infections / epidemiology*
  • Parvoviridae Infections / transmission
  • Parvovirus B19, Human / isolation & purification*
  • Transfusion Reaction
  • Viremia / epidemiology
  • Young Adult


  • DNA, Viral