A virus with an ugly name

I think I tempted fate. After my recent posts about sending kiddies off to nursery with a bottle of Calpol and thankfully not having to spend too much time at the hospital because we are generally a healthy family, I’ve spent the past six days nursing a very poorly little girl.

I suspected she was fighting some sort of virus – high temp, listless, tearful, sleepy, no appetite – but was thinking whatever it was would just run its course. Then my mum came up at the weekend and suggested she might have a mild case of mumps, as her cheeks were really puffy and red. She’d had her MMR booster (speaking of which, good riddance to Dr Andrew Wakefield) bang on three weeks before she started feeling rough, so the incubation period would be right (though not sure if incidences of this happening are actual or anecdotal).  

But when I took her to the doc yesterday morning she said DD probably had a virus I’d never heard of called slapped cheek, or fifth disease. Lovely name, isn’t it? Imaginatively called because the distinctive sign is very red cheeks that look like they’ve been slapped.

The Catch 22 of this virus, like a lot of these things, is that it is highly infectious for up to 20 days before any symptoms, but the moment the red cheeks appear, you’re no longer infectious.

In the past three weeks, she’s seen pretty much every member of her family and all her best friends. And one of the nasty things about slapped cheek is that, like mumps and chicken pox, it’s really not good for pregnant women to be around, especially in the first 12 weeks or so. Apparently most adults are immune as it’s incredibly common and we’ve all had it at some time or another as kids, probably without diagnosis. But you can’t be too careful, so the doc advised me to call any pregnant women DD had seen recently and get them to go and have blood tests to check their immunity.

Gulp. My sister and my sister-in-law are both pregnant. I really didn’t want to call them. I didn’t want them to panic. I felt guilty that I might be responsible for potentially causing them or their unborn babies problems. What if something terrible happened and it was because of DD’s illness and they hated me and her forever?! I calmed myself down, did my research, got my facts right, called them both and fessed up.

Both were completely cool and pragmatic, on the phone to me at least, and are getting blood tests done. Fingers crossed all is fine. The risk is small. And I know there’s nothing we can do to avoid every virus – it’s May, these things go round, kids pick them up, they get over them. But I still feel bad, like I should apologise for DD being ill. Is that ridiculous?

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One comment

  1. No need to feel guilty, obviously. But I do recognise that feeling.

    Mine have both had that disease and I was told there was no problem with pregnant women. It seems they’re much more relaxed about that kind of thing on the continent.

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