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Parvovirus in humans is a relatively recent phenomenon


Parvovirus in humans is a relatively recent phenomenon – first associated with clinical disease about 30 years ago. It has multiple presentations – “slapped cheek” or Fifth’s Disease in kids with mild febrile illness followed by rash, suppression of bone marrow, and severe fetal anemia potentially causing death in utero if a pregnant woman becomes infected.
The virus replicates in red blood cell precursors in bone marrow. Many people infected with the virus will have no symptoms, while 50 percent will have only non-specific flu-like symptoms of malaise, muscle pain and fever. About 25 percent will have classic symptoms of rash, arthralgia and edema.
For pregnant women it is critical to remain vigilant about precautions around others who are ill. Unfortunately, exposure can occur before other’s symptoms are evident. Frequent hand washing and avoiding sharing of food, drink, and utensils is helpful. Virus transmission is through respiratory droplets or hand-to-mouth contact.
About half of women have been exposed and are immune to parvovirus before they become pregnant. Any woman exposed while pregnant needs testing and close surveillance to know if the baby has been affected.
At Women’s Health Care we are able to answer your questions regarding risks to you and your unborn child. Call to schedule an appointment- 503/435-2020.

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