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Nosocomial Exposure to Parvovirus B19: Low Risk of Transmission to Healthcare Workers

  • Susan M. Ray (a1) (a2), Dean D. Erdman (a3), Jeffrey D. Berschling (a1), Joan E. Cooper (a2), Thomas J. Török (a3) and Henry M. Blumberg (a1) (a2)...



To evaluate the risk of nosocomial transmission of parvovirus B19 (B19) infection to healthcare workers (HCWs) exposed to patients with transient aplastic crisis (TAC) caused by acute B19 infection.


Cohort study.


1,000-bed, urban teaching hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.


Eighty-seven exposed HCWs who cared for two patients with TAC prior to the time they were isolated and a comparison group of 88 unexposed HCWs from wards or clinics where the patients did not receive care.


Self-administered questionnaire on hospital contact with index patients, B19 community risk factors, and signs and symptoms suggestive of B19 disease. Serology for B19-specific IgM and IgG antibodies measured by antibody-capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.


1 (3.1%) of the 32 nonimmune exposed HCWs had serologic evidence of recent B19 infection compared to 3 (8.1%) of the 37 nonimmune HCWs in the comparison group (P=.6). In a subgroup analysis of exposed HCWs who cared for index patients during the time when the virus load was expected to be greatest, a recent infection rate of 5.8% (1/17) was found among nonimmune HCWs.


The finding of similar rates of recent infection in nonimmune exposed and unexposed HCWs suggests that transmission to HCWs did not occur, despite failure to place the patients in isolation at the onset of hospitalization.


Corresponding author

Department of Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine, 69 Butler St SE, Atlanta, GA 30303


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