Parvovirus B19 is a viral infection that most commonly affects young children. It produces a very characteristic red rash on the child’s cheeks, which appears as if the face has been slapped (hence the name “slapped cheek” syndrome).
In addition to young children, some pregnant women are vulnerable to catching parvovirus. Approximately 90% of adults have previously been exposed to parvovirus and are therefore immune. However, 10% of pregnant women are not immune; they could catch the virus from infected children and pass it to the baby, which – in rare cases – can be very serious. Although parvovirus immunity is not routinely tested in pregnancy bloods, it can be included if requested.
The virus which causes parvovirus infection tends to be cyclical – there is an outbreak every 2-3 years. Currently, in Sydney, there is a mini-outbreak of parvovirus infection, so pregnant women should be very careful.
Dr Colin Walsh is an expert in congenital infection, including parvovirus in pregnancy. If you wish to make an appointment to see Dr. Walsh, please call us on 1300 460 111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.