Volume 24, Number 2—February 2018
Viruses of the family Parvoviridae (Latin parvum [meaning small or tiny]) are among the smallest viruses described, 18–28 nm in diameter (Figure). There are 2 subfamilies of the family Parvoviridae: Parvovirinae and Densovirina (Latin denso [thick or compact]). Parvovirinae may infect humans, but Densovirina infect only arthropods (1). Structurally, these viruses are nonenveloped, icosahedral viruses that contain a single-stranded linear DNA genome (2,3).
The small size of these viruses might account for their late discovery. In 1974, the first pathogenic human parvovirus was discovered and named B19 from the coding of a serum sample, number 19 in panel B, that gave anomalous results during testing for hepatitis B (4). Although human B19 infections are more often asymptomatic or lead to mild rash illnesses and arthralgias, they can also cause severe anemia in fetuses and in persons with underlying hemoglobinopathies (5).
- Tattersall P, Cotmore SF. Parvoviruses. In: Topley WW, Wilson GS, editors. Topley & Wilson’s microbiology and microbial infections. Vol. 1, 10th ed. London: Hodder Arnold; 2005. p. 407−39.
- Pattison JR. B19 virus—a pathogenic human parvovirus. Blood Rev. 1987;1:58–64.
- Servey JT, Reamy BV, Hodge J. Clinical presentations of parvovirus B19 infection. Am Fam Physician. 2007;75:373–6.
- Cossart YE, Field AM, Cant B, Widdows D. Parvovirus-like particles in human sera. Lancet. 1975;1:72–3.
- Young NS, Brown KE. Parvovirus B19. N Engl J Med. 2004;350:586–97.