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Parvovirus B19 Antibodies, IgG & IgM

Parvovirus B19 is the causative agent of fifth disease, which is also called erythema infectiosum or slapped cheek syndrome. Parvovirus infection usually produces a mild illness characterized by an erythematous maculopapular rash on the face. Outbreaks most commonly occur during the spring. Most parvovirus infections are spread by direct contact with respiratory secretions. Close contact between individuals increases the incidence of outbreaks in schools, daycare centers, and hospitals.

Parvovirus has also been associated with hydrops fetalis, aplastic anemia, and arthralgia. Infection during pregnancy risks transmission to the fetus, which may cause intrauterine death. The rate of fetal death following maternal infection ranges between 1% and 9%.

Detection of parvovirus antibodies is useful in diagnosing parvovirus related diseases.  Both IgG and IgM may become detectable soon after onset of illness and reach peak levels within 30 days. Because IgG antibody may persist for years, diagnosis of acute infection is made by the detection of IgM antibodies. The prevalence of parvovirus B19 IgG antibodies increases with age. Parvovirus IgG antibodies are detected in 2% to 9% of children under 5 years of age, 15% to 35% in children between 5 and 18 years of age, and 30% to 60% of adults. The presence of IgM indicates recent infection. The presence of IgG antibodies is suggestive of past exposure.

Parvo B19 IgM Parvo B19 IgG Interpretation
Negative Negative Not infected
Negative Positive Past exposure
Equivocal Positive or Negative Possible recent infection
Positive Positive Recent infection
Positive Negative or Equivocal Possible current infection

Epstein Barr virus infections and antinuclear antibodies may produce equivocal or positive IgM results. Patients who are immunosuppressed may not produce detectable Parvovirus antibodies.

Antibody to parvovirus B19 is detected by a sandwich EIA for the detection of IgG or IgM class antibodies in serum or plasma. Reference value is negative for IgG and IgM. 

Specimen requirement is one SST tube of blood.


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