Susceptibility to infectious rash illness in pregnant women from diverse geographical regions

Commun Dis Public Health. 2004 Dec;7(4):344-8.


Varicella-zoster (VZV), rubella (RV) and parvovirus B19 (B19V) infections are important causes of rash illness in pregnancy, due to their potential adverse impact on both mother and fetus. We determined susceptibility to these infections in pregnant women attending our hospital in 2002. Age and nationality were recorded. Sera were tested for VZV, RV, and B19V antibody by enzyme immunoassay. Of 7,980 women screened for VZV IgG, 11.3% were seronegative and therefore susceptible to infection. Across different worldwide regions, 6.9% of Irish and other Western European women were susceptible to VZV, compared to 19.7% of other women tested (p < 0.001), most of whom were from Central and Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Of 7,872 women screened for RV IgG, 2.3% were seronegative. Few Irish (0.6%) or other Western European women (0.7%) were rubella non-immune, but 5.5% of women from other regions tested were susceptible to rubella (p < 0.001). A random subset of 1,048 women were tested for B19V IgG. About 38% were susceptible, varying from 22% to 63% across the different regions studied. There are important differences in immunity to these infections and so of potential risk of an adverse outcome in indigenous and immigrant pregnant women in Ireland.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Chickenpox / epidemiology
  • Chickenpox / prevention & control*
  • Disease Susceptibility / epidemiology*
  • Disease Susceptibility / ethnology
  • Exanthema / virology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Parvoviridae Infections / epidemiology
  • Parvoviridae Infections / prevention & control*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / prevention & control*
  • Rubella / epidemiology
  • Rubella / prevention & control*
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies