Pregnant Teacher, Fifths Disease Outbreak In School


Q: I teach in an elementary school and there's a current outbreak of fifths disease in the school. The third case in my class was diagnosed yesterday. I'm 5 weeks pregnant and have been exposed for the past three weeks. I've decided to stay home today and need to make a decision about whether or not I should go back to school for the next two weeks until Spring Break. I'm pretty fastidious about germs, but I'm stuck in a room all day breathing the same air as the kids incubating the virus. How much of a risk is it for me to be in school? I've already had a blood test and I am NOT immune, despite teaching for 8 years.


A:   Exposure to Fifth disease (due to parvovirus B19) early in pregnancy has the potential risk of adverse fetal outcomes, especially during the first 2 trimesters. There is approximately a 50% risk of infection from close, frequent interaction with an infected child. You may choose to continue going to their workplace if there is an outbreak of fifth disease happening. However, if you are not immune to parvovirus B19 and are not currently infected, you may want to stay away from children with fifth disease while you are pregnant. Talk with your family, healthcare provider, and employer to decide what is best for you.

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