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Dev Biol (Basel). 2004;118:71-7.

Variants of B19.

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  • 1Hematology Branch, National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


The human parvovirus B19 (B19), the only known human pathogenic parvovirus, was discovered in 1975. Like other parvoviruses it is a small (22-24 nm diameter) non-enveloped icosahedral virus, with a single-stranded genome. As part of its life history it replicates to high titre in the bone marrow, and in acute infection high titres of infectious virus are present in the peripheral blood. Parvovirus B19 is therefore not an uncommon 'contaminant' of blood and blood products. In addition the lack of lipid membrane envelope renders parvoviruses insensitive to solvent detergents, and the small genome confers relative resistance to heat and gamma irradiation. Many medical reviews have been written on the molecular biology, clinical features, approaches to diagnosis and management, and these should be consulted for more information. This review will give an overview of the biology of parvovirus B19 infection, and the more recently described variants of parvovirus B19.

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