Erythema infectiosum is also known as 'slapped cheek disease' or 'fifth disease' and is a common childhood viral infection caused by human parvovirus B19.
Sixty precent of women are immune to the virus by the time they reach childbearing age. Occasionally, an unborn baby of a non-immune mother can develop problems if infected before the 20th week of pregnancy.
What are the symptoms? Most cases experience no symptoms at all. Children can have a mild illness with little or no fever but a striking redness of the cheeks (hence 'slapped cheek disease'). Sometime the rash will extend over the bridge of the nose or around the mouth and occasionally to the rest of the body, with the upper arms and legs being the most common locations. The rash usually lasts a couple of days and may itch.
Patients are usually no longer infectious once the rash has appeared. The incubation period of the infection is 1 to 2 weeks.
Parvovirus infection is spread by through coughing, sneezing or touching something that has been coughed or sneezed on. About 50% of non-immune people will become infected if there is a case in their household, less if the case is at school or child care.
How can it affect my baby? The risk to unborn babies is low. Spread from mother to baby can only occur if the mother is not immune. Even if the mother is affected only one-third of babies will develop the infection (generally about a month after the mother's illness).
Infection during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy can rarely cause a form of anaemia in the baby. In many cases this resolves by itself but in some instances it may require treatment. Very rarely it can be fatal. Parvovirus infection does not cause congenital abnormalities but is infrequently associated with miscarriage
How can I protect myself and my baby? Washing hands before eating or touching your face can help prevent infection. Avoid sharing cutlery, cups and plates.
What action should I take if I think I have been exposed? If you believe you have been in contact with a case of parvovirus infection please call our office to arrange a blood test to check your immunity. There is no risk to you or you baby if you already have immunity.
If active infection is diagnosed, ultrasounds can be done every 1-2 weeks to monitor the health of the baby.
Varicella (Chicken Pox)
• It is a common and highly infective herpesvirus that causes 2 common clinical infections Varicella(chickenpox) and Herpes zoster(shingles) • It is associated with significant maternal morbidity primarily from pneumonitis • Congenital infection can occur if mother got infected before 20 weeks gestation • Neonatal infection can occur (neonatal sepsis, pneumonia, Encephalitis) if infection occurred just before birth • Herpes zoster carries little risk to mother and baby but can be a source of infection in susceptible individuals
What to do? Most women are immune. We routinely check your immunity with the initial blood tests. If you were not immune, you would have been told to get in touch with us within 24 hours of your exposure to an infected person, as you may require an injection to boost your immunity temporarily. The Vaccine is contraindicated while you are pregnant.
PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR GP REGARDS FLU VACCINE AS IT IS INDICATED IN PREGNANT WOMEN, ALSO WHOOPING COUGH VACCINE FOR YOUR FAMILY INCLUDING HUSBAND