People belonging to the Rh(D) blood group have an increased risk of infection with the parvovirus

According to a study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases by researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden in collaboration with Octapharma.

Fifth disease is a viral disease caused by the parvovirus. Usually, school-aged children are affected by common symptoms such as red spots on the cheeks that can also spread to the arms and legs. Even adults can become infected, but many show no symptoms.

In a new study, researchers can now show that the risk of contracting the disease is increased if the person belongs to the Rhesus D antigen blood group, or what is called Rh(D). In addition to the blood typing in the AB0 system, the Rh system is the most common.

All infected belonged to Rh(D)

Between 2015 and 2018, more than 160,000 blood donors in Germany were screened for parvovirus. Of the blood donors, 22 people are infected with the virus. All infected persons belonged to the Rh(D) blood group.

It is an important finding that has not yet been described and could mean that Rh(D) is important when the virus enters the host cell and could also be a novel, as yet unidentified cellular receptor for the virus.”

Rasmus Gustafsson, affiliate researcher in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet and project manager at Octapharma

Women were overrepresented

The researchers were also able to see that the risk of infection was increased during the summer months. In addition, both women and people aged 31 to 40 have an increased risk of infection.

“At that age, there are usually toddlers around. We already know that young children become infected in kindergarten and then infect their parents. So the age and gender distribution may reflect the fact that women work more than men.” in the care professions and the care of children,” says Rasmus Gustafsson.

The study was carried out in collaboration with the company Octapharma, where several co-authors are active.


Magazine reference:

Healy, K., et al. (2022) Prevalence of parvovirus B19 viremia in German blood donations and its relationship with ABO and Rhesus blood group antigens. The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

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