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Lancet. 1993 May 15;341(8855):1237-40.

Human parvovirus infection in homozygous sickle cell disease.

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  • 1British Medical Research Council Laboratories (Jamaica), University of the West Indies, Kingston.


We studied the epidemiology of human parvovirus B19 infection in 308 children with homozygous sickle cell (SS) disease and 239 controls with a normal haemoglobin (AA) genotype followed from birth in a cohort study. Annual serum samples identified the time and frequency of B19 infection, which did not differ between SS and AA children, about 40% of each group developing specific IgG by age 15. B19 infection followed an epidemic pattern similar to that observed for aplastic crises; accounted for all 91 aplastic crises that occurred; and was found in an additional 23 SS patients, of whom 10 showed mild haematological changes and 13 no changes. The magnitude or duration of IgG response did not differ between these groups. No patient had 2 attacks of aplasia and no patient nor control had 2 attacks of B19 infection. Following B19 infection, serial specific IgG concentrations remained high after 5 years in only 45% of SS patients, although the rarity of recurrent aplasia suggests lifelong immunity. B19 infection accounts for most if not all aplastic crises in SS disease, but at least 20% of infections do not result in aplasia. An effective vaccine against B19 might make an important contribution to the management of sickle cell disease.

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