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Parvo 19 virus
Aug 1, 2002

Please described the symptoms of the Parvo 19 human virus. Apparently the Canine Parvo virus can be fatal. How serious is it in humans? Is there a treatment for the human virus?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

Parvovirus B19 is a small DNA virus. Epidemiological studies have shown about half of the adult population has antibodies to Parvo B19, which means that they had some form of the viral infection some time during their lives. Most of these infections occur in childhood and often are completely asymptomatic.

The symptomatic conditions caused by parvovirus include:

1. Fifth Disease (Erythema Infectiosum). This is a common childhood viral syndrome, which includes an evanescent rash often referred to as "slapped" cheek rash. 2. In adults, acute infection with Parvovirus can cause rheumatic complaints like symptoms similar to arthritis, fibromyalgia, or systemic lupus erythematosus. 3. Transient Aplastic Crisis. Parvovirus B19 can interrupt the normal production of red blood cells and result in problems for people who have other blood-related problems like hereditary spherocytosis or hemolytic anemia. 4. Hydrops Fetalis and Congenital Infection. Parvovirus infection in pregnant women can be transmitted to the developing fetus, resulting in liver problems, spontaneous abortion, or death in utero. Congenital infections can produce chronic anemia. 5. Sever chronic anemia in HIV-infected people.

So to answer your questions, how serious is it in humans? Usually not serious at all, but on occasion, it can cause significant problems as I indicated above. Is there a treatment? Yes, the best treatment is Intravenous Gamma Globulin. This is a product made form pooled serum antibodies from blood donors. As I mentioned, 50% of the adult population has antibodies in their blood stream, which indicates past infection. These antibodies are also the immune system's response to infection. By collecting and infusing these antibodies into someone with symptomatic Parvovirus B19, the symptoms can usually be brought under control quite quickly.

Canine Parvo is not the same things as Parvovirus B19 that infects humans.

OK, that was probably a lot more information than you wanted to know, right? Bottom line - Parvovirus usually doesn't cause significant problems in humans, but when it does, we have an excellent treatment. Second, no problem cuddling up with Fido and giving him a big hug. In fact, my pooch is sitting right here on my lap as I write this response. We both send our good wishes.

Dr. Bob


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