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Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of parvovirus B19 infection

Jeanne A Jordan, PhD
Section Editors
Martin S Hirsch, MD
Morven S Edwards, MD
Deputy Editor
Allyson Bloom, MD


Human parvovirus B19 belongs to the Erythrovirus genus within the Parvoviridae family [1]. It was first discovered in 1975 while screening units of blood for hepatitis B virus in asymptomatic donors [2]. Sample 19 in panel B (hence the name parvovirus B19) was read as a false positive result on a counterimmunoelectrophoresis assay. B19 is the predominant parvovirus pathogen in humans, first associated with clinical disease in 1981. The other less common and more recently described erythroviruses infecting humans include genotype 2 (prototype strain, LaLi) and genotype 3 (prototype strain, V9) [3-5]. Genotypes 1 and 2 are typically found in western countries (eg, the United States and Europe), while genotype 3 is found primarily in sub-Saharan Africa and South America [6], but is spreading.

The clinical manifestations and diagnosis of parvovirus B19 infection will be discussed here. The microbiology, epidemiology, transmission, pathogenesis, treatment, and prevention of this infection, as well as issues of infection during pregnancy, are discussed elsewhere. (See "Microbiology, epidemiology, and pathogenesis of parvovirus B19 infection" and "Parvovirus B19 infection during pregnancy" and "Treatment and prevention of parvovirus B19 infection".)


The clinical presentations associated with B19 infection vary greatly, ranging from benign to life threatening. The clinical presentation is influenced by the infected individual's age and hematologic and immunologic status.

The five well-established syndromes associated with parvovirus B19 are:

Fifth disease/erythema infectiosum (see 'Erythema infectiosum' below)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Mar 14, 2017.
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