What is a Parvovirus?

Parvovirus, commonly truncated to parvo, is both a virus name and a genus of the ''Parvoviridae'' family. Parvoviruses are typically linear, non-segmented single-stranded DNA viruses, with an average genome size of 5000 nucleotides.

Parvoviruses are some of the smallest viruses found in nature (hence the name, from Latin ''parvus'' meaning ''small''). Some have been found as small as 23 nm.

Many types of mammalian species have a strain of parvovirus associated with them.

Parvoviruses tend to be specific about the taxon of animal they will infect, but this is a somewhat flexible characteristic. Thus, all strains of canine parvovirus will affect dogs, wolves, and foxes, but only some of them will infect cats.

Humans can be infected by viruses from three other genera from the family ''Parvoviridae'', such as by Parvovirus B19, but no members of the genus ''Parvovirus'' are currently known to infect humans.

This creates a confusion of terms, because the human parvoviruses are not in genus ''Parvovirus''. These are the Dependoviruses (e.g. Adeno-Associated Virus), the Erythroviruses (e.g. Parvovirus B19) and the Bocaviruses.

The viral capsid of parvovirus is made up of 2-3 proteins, known as VP1-3 that form an icosahedral structure that is resistant to pH, solvents and temperature up to 50°C.

Inside the capsid is a single-stranded DNA genome. At the 5’ and 3’ ends of this genome are palindromic sequences of approximately 120-250 nucleotides, that form hairpins and are essential for viral genome replication.

Further Reading


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Last Updated: Oct 8, 2014

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