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My wife and son have been in contact with a Child who has Parvovirus.

My wife and son have been in contact with a Child who has Parvovirus. I have been told that infectious period is two weeks before symtoms show (they were in regular contact during this period also). My wife is booked in for blood tests tomorrow. Should my son have a blood test also to check if he is carrying but not yet showing symtoms.

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The answer

Parvovirus is a very common virus infection which usually settles on its own without long term complications. In about ¼ of people who catch it, there are no symptoms at all, and other simply get cold-like symptoms. ‘Fifth disease’ or ‘slapped cheek syndrome’, caused by parvovirus infection,  is usually seen in winter and spring, mostly among 3-15 year olds. Low-grade fever, tiredness, runny nose and headache are followed a few days later by blotchy redness on the cheeks only, which settles within 3 or 4 days but can be followed by an itchy rash on the arms and legs. Occasionally parvovirus infection can cause pain and inflammation in the joints. Doctors do not routinely test for parvovirus in healthy people. However, it can cause serious complications for the baby if a pregnant woman catches parvovirus, and can also give rise to much more serious symptoms in people whose immune system isn’t working properly (for instance, because of AIDS, cancer or cancer treatment). If your son is healthy it’s unlikely that he will need to be tested. If your wife is pregnant, a blood test will tell if she is immune to parvovirus, as the majority of adults are since at least 60 per cent  of people catch parvovirus before the age of 20.

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