Ringworm in pregnancy

Parvovirus B19, as ringworm is also known, mostly affects children and is highly contagious. It is often confused with rubella due to similar symptoms. If there is no immunity, infection with ringworm during pregnancy is extremely dangerous.

Infection with ringworm during pregnancy

Parvovirus B19, also known as ringworm, is a virus that prefers cells in the blood-forming system. It primarily damages and destroys the red blood cells in the body of the pregnant woman. Infection is possible via droplet infection. The incubation period is two weeks after virus entry. Within four to six days, the viruses spread throughout the entire organism of the pregnant woman.

Usually, most people contract this virus during their childhood. Around 70 percent had already had contact with it by the time they were adults. It often subsides without medication and is only treated with compresses and anti-itching agents. However, if an initial illness occurs during pregnancy, the pregnant woman has not built up any defenses against it and the infection can unfortunately lead to devastating complications.

Symptoms of ringworm

The same symptoms can be observed in pregnant women as in other sick adults. Typical of this virus is the rubella-like and itchy rash on the face and body. The ringed rubella differs from the normal rubella mainly by the garland-like shape of the redness. The rash is often accompanied by flu-like symptoms and swelling of the lymph nodes. In many cases, especially in adults, there are hardly any symptoms noticeable – not even a rash – and the disease is very uneventful.

Complications of ringworm in pregnancy

In the absence of immunity, infection with this virus during pregnancy is extremely dangerous. Unfortunately, the probability of transmission to the child is about 30 percent. This probability is independent of the progress of the pregnancy. However, the severity of the disease on the part of the child is more serious in the first half of pregnancy. If the pregnant woman falls ill within the first 20 weeks, the risk of a miscarriage increases.

The pathogens reach the child via the placenta. The virus then usually attacks the blood-forming cells. There is a drop in the baby’s red blood cells. Anemia can be the result. This so-called anemia is often accompanied by a massive accumulation of fluid in the body of the fetus (so-called hydrops). In the worst case, it can lead to the death of the unborn child.

Prevention of ringworm in pregnancy

A vaccination against ringworm is currently being worked on. However, if a pregnant woman does not have antibodies against ringworm, she can try to keep the risk of infection as low as possible with the following measures.

  • Ringlet disease is mainly transmitted by small children. Therefore, women who do not have antibodies against ringworm should be particularly careful when dealing with children. This applies in particular to people who have a lot to do with children professionally, such as kindergarten teachers or teachers.
  • If a pregnant woman has come into contact with a sick person, the administration of an immunoglobulin in the first few days after contact can possibly prevent illness.

Possibilities of prenatal diagnostics

If a pregnant woman has had contact with infected people, she should contact a doctor as soon as possible and discuss how to proceed with him over the phone first. The following diagnostic options exist:

  • If there is a suspicion, a pregnant woman is searched for IgG and IgM antibodies.
  • In the event of an infection, very close-meshed ultrasound examinations are also carried out, in particular with Doppler ultrasound technology , in order to be able to identify and treat water retention and improper care of the child at an early stage.
  • Taking the umbilical cord blood enables antibodies against the parvovirus B19 to be detected. A sample of the amniotic fluid or the chorionic villi can be used to detect the virus itself. Clear proof is not always possible, however.
  • Further tests are often carried out to rule out other causes of hydrops formation, the child’s undersupply and anemia. For example, the presence of rhesus intolerance is tested as another possible cause.
  • If the baby shows the signs of anemia described above, attempts can be made to help the child with blood transfusions. They are administered to him through the umbilical cord.

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