Human parvovirus B19 and blood products

Vox Sang. 1997;72(1):1-10. doi: 10.1046/j.1423-0410.1997.00001.x.


Background and objectives: Human B19 parvovirus (B19), identified in 1975, was only recognised as the causative agent of fifth disease in 1983. The incidence of viraemia is low, around 1 in 1,000, but is sufficient to ensure that most plasma pools for fractionation contain some virus. While infection usually occurs in childhood and is benign, chronic infection sometimes occurs and may be of concern in certain patient groups.

Materials and methods: This review is based on a meeting held in March 1995, and addresses recent concerns regarding the potential transmission of B19 infection by pooled plasma products.

Results: Recent data on the pathophysiology and assay of this virus are summarised along with possible approaches to donor screening, product screening, and virus removal. Only five cases of symptomatic infection have been reported in persons with haemophilia, but no technology for virus removal is established, and infection may be of concern in pregnant women, and in patients with enhanced red cell turnover or who are immunosuppressed, including those infected with human immunodeficiency virus, but only rarely in immunocompetent patients.

Conclusions: For the future, well-validated assays relevant to virus infectivity are required if blood donations, plasma pools, or plasma products are to be screened, and an in-process virus inactivation step for B19 would be highly desirable. In the interim, non-plasma or recombinant products or a selective transfusion policy might be used in patient groups in which B19 infection is of particular concern. Further clinical data on the prognosis and impact of B19 infection are needed to justify both such policies and the future adoption of new technologies designed to reduce any excess B19 infectivity arising from transfused products.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parvoviridae Infections / transmission*
  • Parvovirus B19, Human*
  • Pregnancy
  • Transfusion Reaction*