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J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Nov;40(11):3909-12.

Increased risk of parvovirus B19 infection in young adult cancer patients receiving multiple courses of chemotherapy.

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Cancer Research Center, Taipei, Taiwan.


An increased human parvovirus B19 infection rate has been observed in immunocompromised hosts. In this study, we sought to determine the prevalence of parvovirus B19 infection in adult cancer patients receiving multiple courses of systemic chemotherapy. From March 1999 through April 2000, 59 men and 68 women, with a median age of 49 (18 to 79) years, were enrolled in this study. They had received an average of 7.1 (4 to 32) courses of systemic chemotherapy. The median duration from the date of starting chemotherapy to the date of blood sampling was 11 (4 to 88) months. Serum B19 immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgM levels were examined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, and B19 DNA was examined by a nested PCR. A group of 400 healthy blood donors served as the control group. The overall prevalences of anti-B19 IgG in adult cancer patients and healthy blood donors were 61.4 and 25.0%, respectively (P < 0.01). Anti-B19 IgM and B19 DNA were not detectable in these anti-B19 IgG-seropositive individuals. A further age-stratified comparison revealed that only patients younger than 40 years had a significantly higher anti-B19 IgG seropositivity rate than the controls (19 of 39 versus 53 of 310; P < 0.001). The increased prevalence of B19 infection in these 39 adult patients younger than 40 years might be clinically significant, since unexplained anemia, a common sequela of B19 infection, was detected in 3 of 20 seronegative patients (15.0%) and in 12 of 19 seropositive patients (63.2%) (P < 0.005). The results of this study suggest that adult patients younger than 40 years and receiving multiple courses of systemic chemotherapy may have a significantly increased risk of B19 infection. Prospective studies to define the time course and clinical consequence of B19 infection in this group of patients are needed.

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