Background: High seroprevalence of parvovirus B19 (B19V) coinfection with Plasmodium falciparum has been previously reported. However, the impact of B19V-infection on the clinical course of malaria is still elusive. In this study, we investigated the prevalence and clinical significance of B19V co-infection in Gabonese children with malaria.
Methods: B19V prevalence was analyzed in serum samples of 197 Gabonese children with P. falciparum malaria and 85 healthy controls using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and direct DNA-sequencing.
Results: B19V was detected in 29/282 (10.28%) of Gabonese children. B19V was observed more frequently in P. falciparum malaria patients (14.21%) in comparison to healthy individuals (1.17%) (P<0.001). Notably, the mild-malaria group revealed significantly lower hematocrit levels in B19V/P. falciparum co-infection than in P. falciparum mono-infection (P<0.05). Genetic analysis revealed a predominance of B19V genotype-1 (71.43%) in the studied population. However, B19V-genotype 2 was observed significantly more often in children with severe-malaria than in mild-malaria (P=0.04).
Conclusion: Our findings reveal that B19V-infection is frequent in Gabonese children with P. falciparum malaria and signifies a possible contribution of B19V on the clinical course of malaria in a genotype-dependent manner. B19V co-infection should be considered as a additional diagnostic measure in malaria patients with life threatening anemia.