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Slapped Cheek/ Parvovirus

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by wendy30, Jun 13, 2008.

  1. Just a wee word of warning. We recently lost our baby at 5 months pregnant due to parvovirus/slapped cheek. There was a bit of an epidemic at my school but was given advice by school health, hospital consultant etc who said all would be ok. Unfortunately it wasn't and have since found out that it isn't safe to be in contact until after 22 weeks.
    I've learned the hard way and just thought other TES folk should know that if it is in your school get your bag and leave as it isn't worth the risk.
    Not after any sympathy just wanted to pass the message on as there seems to be some confusion over it.
    Hope this helps someone.
  2. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I'm so sorry that you lost your baby in this way. There's not a lot I can say that will make you feel better but I wanted to post so that you don't feel unsupported.
    Lal xx
  3. casper

    casper New commenter

    Wendy I am so sorry about the loss of your baby. There should be more information for schools as employers about these infections and viruses and the risks to members of staff who are expecting babies. I hope you receive all the support you need.

    Casper x
  4. Thank you for passing the info for others, especially at such a sad time for you. I hope you have the support you need.
  5. Wendy, deepest sympathies, my thoughts are with you. We had something similar at my school but I don't really understand what "slapped cheek" is (one of the kids mentioned it and I have to confess that I thought he'd made it up!) - can anyone enlighten me a bit?
  6. Thanks for everyones thoughts. Slapped cheek is a childhood disease which manifests itself in different ways, the most obvious being red marks over the face and body. Children can feel unwell but not always.
    In adults it causes flu like symptoms but in both cases there is no treatment for it. I have been told that 60% of the population are immune and when you have had it then you join that percentage. Just thought that it was important that others knew that if it happens in your work get your bag and leave instantly no matter what people say!
  7. I was given the same advice as you Wendy when i was 6 weeks pregnant. I guess i am lucky it was 1 child and as im supply it was minimum contact but the Dr made me feel stupid for being worried. I am soooo sorry you have had such an awful experience, my thoughts are with you this evening x
  8. qwe


    My sincerest condolences to wendy30 on her tragic loss. However, in response to her advice and in answer to s/e's question, may I say:

    Parvovirus is a very common virus which infects many people without causing any discernable symptoms, or which just makes them feel a bit fluey & below par, in which case it is unlikely to be diagnosed. It will only be diagnosed if people both feel unwell enough to see a doc and have the chracteristic but often absent "slapped cheek" flushing - a minority of cases. Thus avoiding it is hardly practicable, and even if you were able to do so on one occasion (eg. if a child was diagnosed and if you indeed got your bag and left) - you would be avoiding acquiring immunity and thus remain susceptible for the future.

    It is quite hazardous to puppies, and they are often immunized against it. In humans it is INCREDIBLY rare for it to cause problems. INCREDIBLY rarely, however, it affects the bone marrow. This is largely in people with a particular vulnerablility, generally in the form of unusual blood cells or production thereof. A surprisingly common example of this is something called hereditary spherocytosis. Many people with this don't know they have it (so could wendy30's family?) and by itself it so rarely causes problems that many people live their entire life without knowing that they have it, nor does this matter.

    In short, avoidance of parvovirus is not practicable, and problems from it are much rarer than with many other illnesses for which we would not consider fleeing the workplace.
  9. qwe


    s/i not s/e (so much for my intellect!)
  10. I agree with the last posters comments and therefore wish to repeat that i am not trying to panic anybody by any manner of means as i know that this could have been caught anywhere and not just in the workplace.

    Yes it is rare but after working in conjunction with the hospital and my local authority, who are now drawing up new guidelines for teachers, you would be surprised how many babies are lost to this virus. Unfortunately the numbers are much higher than you might expect and therefore i repeat that anyone who is pregnant should be aware of it.
  11. ((Wendy39))

    Anyone who is pregnant should ask for a blood test to determine whether they are immune to the virus or not. I had one done at six weeks and it has saved me no end of worry in the four outbreaks we have had recently. This test is not routinely done but my midwife was more than happy to get it done. The results take approximately two weeks to come back. Similar get yourself screened for immunity for chcken pox.

    I think that these tests should be done as a matter of course for people working with children.
  12. qwe


    Hmmm. Maybe, but I'm not quite so sure. I think this is a good example of that common phenomenon - a test where you want to know what your result will be before you decide whether to have it done!

    If you're shown to be immune - great, it's reassuring.
    If you're not, what then? I'm sure some in some people at least this would generate a miserable level of anxiety which wouldn't exist otherwise. What could you do? Yes, I suppose you could quarantine yourself if a pupil was known to have parvo, but pupils could have it without anyone knowing, your own kid could have it, your hairdresser could have it, your lover could have it, any of them without you knowing. What would you do - live in a hermetically sealed bubble until after delivery?

    Hopefully someone will tell us there's a vaccine available and that this is safe in pregnancy, but if so I've never heard of it (although as you can immunise puppies you'd think it wouldn't be impossible...)
  13. I agree with you smiling mungo after going through this horrible time.
    This website has proved useful to lots of people so lets hope that this post does too x
  14. 12 | Posted by: qwe at 15 Jun 2008 20:15

    If you're shown to be immune - great, it's reassuring.
    If you're not, what then? I'm sure some in some people at least this would generate a miserable level of anxiety which wouldn't exist otherwise. What could you do? Yes, I suppose you could quarantine yourself if a pupil was known to have parvo, but pupils could have it without anyone knowing, your own kid could have it, your hairdresser could have it, your lover could have it, any of them without you knowing. What would you do - live in a hermetically sealed bubble until after delivery?

    If you are not then you GET OUT and STAY OUT. While I was able to stay in school during our recent outbreaks my colleague was signed off for five weeks - quite rightly so. However, she had a two week wait to even find out whether she needed to worry or not and a million and one phonecalls trying to chase up results - additional worry that you do not need! Of course you would be exposed to the dangers through everyday life but you should not put yourself in a situation where you are in a room with such infections for hours upon end.
  15. qwe


    Smiler, are you suggesting that 1) pregnant teachers should stay out of school indefinitely if not immune to parvo PERIOD, or just 2) if there are known cases in the school? (and until what stage of pregnancy?)

    Either way, I disagree.
    1) would result in a huge amount of absence, but could at least be seen as logical. 2) is illogical, because as previously explained many cases will exist without being known. Moreover, having swotted up a bit I find that parvo is infectious for "from 4-20 days" or "up to 14 days" depending on what you read BEFORE the rash appears (during which time often no symptoms and certainly none which would give the diagnosis) and is no longer infectious by the time the rash appears. Thus, by the time you know someone has parvo they are no longer a risk.

    I found that the DoH did a paper specifically about the risks to female school staff from pupils with infections in 2005 (although I couldn't find it in original full text). Whilst we might not trust them any more than any other govt organisation on some matters, this sort of thing would have to be written by docs. It recommended no absence for either pupil or teacher, just for teachers to alert their antenatal team if they realised they had had exposure prior to 20weeks. For conditions posing significant risk to others it is of course the PUPIL who is advised to stay away - not the teacher.

    Talking of docs, I think teachers get a bit too precious about the risks they face. I know a female GP who recently had baby (and has shown herself to be if anything rather an over-anxious Mum). I used to know a pregnant paediatric nurse. Naturally, they positively attract children with undiagnosed illnesses for them to touch, peer down throats, listen to coughs etc - generally to place themselves more in harms way than do teachers. To the best of my knowledge they had no extra tests. They would be more aware of the risks than us (although perhaps also more aware of how both small and unavoidable they are). They continued working entirely as normal, and I believe all health care professionals do so.

    Swotting also confirmed no human vaccine available (so best hope is to get close to as many young kids as possible in advance of conceiving - in this sense teachers may have better than average protection!)
  16. At my 20 week scan we were told that the baby had something called echogenic bowel. We were told that it could be, among many other things such as a chromosomal disorder and CF, a result of being infected with slapped cheek. I was tested for SC but had to wait two weeks to find out if I'd had it recently. Fortunately the test showed that I had had it in the past but it wasn't a recent infection. My eldest has recently had it and the practice nurse siad there was a bit of an outbreak in our area. She also said that it is more infectious before the rash appears so you wouldn't know that a child in our class had it until then. However, I would personally ask to be tested. Although if negative you'd obviously worry, if I'd known that I was immune it would have been one less thing to worry about after that scan,
  17. There is an outbreak in Cheshire at the moment - my son has had it, and several of his friends. Took him to the doctors and he was diagnosed with an allergy - only after three other children got it was it diagnosed.
  18. We had slapped cheek in school and one of our LTSA's was signed off for 4 weeks because of it. She had previously lost one child due to miscarriage though so I don't know if that made a difference. She also checked with her GP when chickenpox was around.


    We have this poster on the wall in the staffroom which provides a quick reference guide to various illnesses and what action should be taken with regard to both staff and children.
  19. figrowan

    figrowan New commenter

    I'm sorry but anyone reading this should visit


    This is the latest clinical advice. As my school could not guarantee I could not be infected, especially as my class of 5 are severely autistic and so we are very 'hands on' I wasn't allowed back on site until given all clear for immunity. Yes its everywhere and most infections in pregnancy are via the mothers own child. Yes the dangers are very minimal and treatable but my current experience - and docs concern - was my anxiety, which after 11 years of teaching in some of the most deprived areas and then with mld, asd and ebd is very easily triggered. I've never had a day off for my work related stress, but had to have extreme cbt through nhs psychiatry to fix it. Plus beta blockers. Im extremely successful and love my job.

    Quite frankly the thought of going into work with the usual stress, plus the constant hangover of pregnancy plus worrying about a virus, could do more damage. Teachers don't moan but they do get stressed which makes us negative which sounds moany.

    Most of us are immune so safely waiting a couple of weeks to hear this is no big deal. If the outcome is not immune the school and mother have a duty of care to minimise all known risks.

    Sorry to be a little prickly but the original poster is right and I am so sorry for her loss.

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