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Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

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Diagnosis of parvovirus B19 infection is done by measuring (1)

  • specific IgM and IgG antibodies to parvovirus B19
  • IgM is useful in diagnosing acute infection in immuncompetent patients
  • sensitivity is 89% and specificity is 99% (2)
  • IgM is seen 10–12 days after infection and usually persists for another 3-4 months (occasionally for a longer period) (1)
  • presence of IgG without IgM indicates previous infection of more than two months (3)
  • in the absence of both IgG and IgM, a second serum test should be done one month after the contact date or after symptoms appear
    • if IgM is detected a further test should be done within 7 to 10 days and if felt appropriate refer the patient to a reference laboratory for confirmation of the test (3)
  • B19 DNA in blood or tissue samples through PCR (1)
    • B19 DNA can be detected in serum, bone marrow and other tissues for diagnostic purposes (1)
    • important in diagnosing parvovirus infection in patients with transient aplastic crisis or in immunocompromised patients with chronic infection (2)
  • infection with erythrovirus (parvovirus) B19 may result in a false positive Paul Bunnell test


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