Submitted paper| Volume 18, ISSUE 4, P523-530, December 1997

Higher prevalence of parvovirus B19 in Belgian as compared to Tunisian blood donors: Differential implications for prevention of transfusional transmission

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      Serious anaemia can be induced by human parvovirus B19 (HPV) infection in immuno-compromised patients or subjects with an haemolytic disorder. Routine inactivation procedures are insufficient to neutralize the virus, but screening for HPV is an effective means to avoid transmission by transfusion of blood components.
      In the present study, we have compared for the first time the IgG and IgM seroprevalence in a North African (Tunisian) and Western European (Belgian) population of blood donors. The prevalence of HPV-specific IgM was less than 2% in both populations, pointing to the absence of an epidemic. The prevalence HPV IgG was significantly (p<0.01) higher in Belgium (74%) than in Tunisia (65%), without any relationship with age or sex. This finding may suggest a south-north gradient of this infectious disease.
      Since the presence or absence of HPVspecific antibodies does not preclude transfusional transmission, screening for the virus itself should be done to avoid iatrogenic infection in HPV-naive subjects at risk. In view of the different transfusion policies in Belgium and Tunisia, a strategy for each of both countries is proposed.
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