RAF Alconbury Public Health Advisory

  • Published
  • By 501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs

RAF Alconbury/Molesworth Community,

Our professionals in the 501st Combat Support Wing have recently suspected a higher incident rate of a virus called Parvovirus B19 at RAF Alconbury. The virus most commonly causes Fifth Disease, a mild rash illness that typically affects children. While our team has only suspected an increase in this virus, we want to keep you well-informed and aware of preventative measures.

To do so, our Public Health team gathered facts about the Parvovirus B18 and Fifth Disease, found below. You can use the information to learn about the virus, how it is diagnosed, and how to best prevent it. If you've read through it and have lingering questions or concerns, we've also included contact information for your local Public Health office.

Main takeaways:

  • Parvovirus B19 spreads mainly through respiratory secretions, such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus, when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • The most common symptom of Parvovirus B19 is Fifth Disease is a mild rash illness.
  • You can best prevent the spread of the virus by washing your hands often, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, and avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

This information is by no means intended to alarm you or your families. Rather, it is to keep you in the know on public health information in your community and make relevant information available to you as soon as possible. We will be sure to continue sharing helpful information. For community updates and other happenings, be sure to visit the 501st Combat Support Wing official Facebook page (www.facebook.com/501stCSW).

Thank you, as always, for your unwavering support of our community.  We could not do what we do without you!


Parvovirus B19 and Fifth Disease Fact Sheet

What are the symptoms?

Parvovirus B19 most commonly causes Fifth Disease, a mild rash illness that usually affects children.  Adults can get infected with parvovirus B19, too.  Other much less common symptoms of parvovirus B19 infection include painful or swollen joints (polyarthropathy syndrome), which is more common in adults, and severe anemia (a condition in which the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells).  In rare cases, some of these symptoms can persist for a long time.

How is it transmitted?

Parvovirus B19 spreads through respiratory secretions, such as saliva, sputum, or nasal mucus, when an infected person coughs or sneezes.  Parvovirus B19 can also spread through blood or blood products.  A pregnant woman who is infected with parvovirus B19 can pass the virus to her baby.

Are there any pregnancy implications?

This disease is usually not a problem for pregnant women and their babies.  About half of pregnant women are immune to parvovirus B19, so they and their babies are usually protected from getting the virus and fifth disease.  Pregnant women who are not immune usually have only mild illness if they are exposed to fifth disease.  Also, their babies usually do not have any problems.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider can do a blood test to determine if you are susceptible or immune to parvovirus B19 infection or if you were recently infected.  This is not a routine test but can be performed in special circumstances.  Talk to your healthcare provider.  The blood test may be particularly helpful for pregnant women who may have been exposed to parvovirus B19 and are suspected to have fifth disease.

How can it be prevented?

There is no vaccine or medicine that can prevent or treat parvovirus B19 infection.  You can reduce your chance of being infected with parvovirus B19 or infecting others by

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water
  • Covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • Not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Staying home when you are sick

All healthcare providers and patients should strictly follow the infection control practices listed above to prevent parvovirus B19 from spreading. For more information, please visit https://www.cdc.gov or contact your local Public Health office at DSN 268-4000/4711 or commercial 01480-84-4000/4711.