It mainly affects children and its spread worries the authorities: what is parvovirus B19 ?

It mainly affects children and its spread worries the authorities: what is parvovirus B19 ?

Cinq bébés sont morts de “la cinquième maladie”, liée au parvovirus B19, depuis le début de l’année 2024. ILLUSTRATION UNSPLASH

Santé publique France alerte ce lundi 22 avril sur la recrudescence inquiétante des infections au parvovirus B19 depuis un an, une épidémie qui touche en particulier les enfants.

France has observed for a year an epidemic of parvovirus infections, most of the time not serious but which can occasionally give rise to serious complications, and this has recently accelerated, reported the public health agency.


"An epidemic of parvovirus B19 infections is currently affecting France, having started in May 2023 and affecting all categories of people. age and in particular the child", summarized Public Health France in a report published this Monday, April 22 in the evening.

"Its intensity increased in the last quarter of 2023 and it continues its rise in 2024 with a peak which has not yet been reached in March", she added.

This virus generally causes infections that are not serious and are mainly manifested by skin rashes similar to those caused by measles.

These infections can nevertheless be dangerous in immunocompromised or anemic people, as well as in pregnant women due to the vulnerability of the fetus.

Five deaths since the start of the year

Since the start of the year, five deaths have been recorded, all of infants and, for four of them, after an infection of their mother during pregnancy. This level is higher than before the Covid pandemic, when the number of annual deaths was generally less than two.

This epidemic, also observed in other European countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, is part of a broader context of resurgence of several infections.

Santé publique France has recently reported a rebound in cases of whooping cough, and similar observations have been made on measles or meningococcal infections. These upsurges are generally explained as a consequence of health restrictions taken during the Covid crisis in the early 2020s, then their lifting.

These measures have, in effect, reduced people's exposure to many pathogens, thus temporarily reducing the opportunity to build immune responses to them.

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