BKV is a highly prevalent small nonenveloped virus with a closed circular double stranded DNA genome. BKV is a human polyomavirus which belongs to the papovaviridae family. Primary exposure to BKV occurs in childhood resulting in 80-90% of adults having developed antibodies to BKV. The majority of BKV symptoms are asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic. After primary infection the virus is thought to remain latent in immunocompetent individuals.
Viral reactivation occurs in immunocompromised individuals, occurring frequently in renal transplant patients and hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) patients, with nephropathy occurring in 5% of renal transplant patients within one year of transplantation. Late onset haemorrhagic cystitis occurs in 6-29% of HSCT recipients within 2 months of transplantation.
Quantitative nucleic acid amplification testing from plasma and urine samples is an important laboratory marker for the diagnosis and monitoring of BKV infection in transplant patients.