B19 parvovirus is the etiologic agent of fifth disease and transient aplastic crisis. In natural infections, B19 antigen and DNA have been detected in sera early in the course of aplastic crisis and only rarely in fifth disease. We have found B19 DNA in circulating cells of infected patients by DNA dot blot with a virus-specific probe: in four of four sickle cell patients with aplastic crisis, in one asymptomatic sibling, and in one normal adult with fifth disease. Only two of the sera showed B19 DNA. High-molecular weight intermediate forms were detected by Southern analysis of DNA extracted from cells, thus indicating active replication of virus in cells rather than passive adsorption to their surface membranes. Separation of cells into high- and low-density fractions resulted in a concentration of the virus DNA in the granulocytic fraction.

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