Sickle Cell Disease: Aplastic Crisis

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Topic Overview

If a person with sickle cell disease is infected with parvovirus, the virus that causes fifth disease in children, an aplastic crisis may develop. Bone marrow suddenly stops producing red blood cells, which results in sudden and severe anemia. During this time, a person will often feel tired, have pale skin, and be short of breath.

Blood transfusions might be done to treat an aplastic crisis. After a few days, the bone marrow usually recovers on its own. And red blood cell production returns to its usual rate.footnote 1

Most aplastic crises occur in children. This condition only occurs once in any person.



  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health (2002). The Management of Sickle Cell Disease (NIH Publication No. 02-2117). Available online:


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Martin Steinberg, MD - Hematology

Current as ofFebruary 20, 2015