Dr Glenda McLaren
Obstetrician & Gynaecologist

Infections During Pregnancy

Infections During Pregnancy

If you become unwell with a fever or rash during your pregnancy contact your Doctor.


Chickenpox or Varicella, is a highly infectious viral infection that is spread by direct contact through coughing and sneezing amongst non-immune individuals. In pregnancy Chickenpox can cause congenital abnormality for the baby and can be a serious infection for the mother casing Pneumonia. Many women are immune to Chickenpox due to having the disease as a child.

If you are unsure as to whether you are immune a simple blood test can determine if you are. Preferably, this should be done before pregnancy, giving the opportunity to have a Varicella vaccine booster prior to pregnancy.

If you are non-immune and come into contact with Chickenpox you should contact your GP or Obstetrician who can arrange an injection Zoster Immune Globulin (ZIG)  within 3 days of exposure to protect you and your baby. For more information.

Chickenpox Varicella Information.

Other Infections

Talk with your Obstetrician for up to date information on Coronavirus in pregnancy.

Read more about Coronavirus during pregnancy at the Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website. 

During pregnancy it is recommended that all pregnant women are screened for Hepatitis B and C. For further information on Hepatitis in pregnancy please see:




Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is bacteria commonly carried by up to 30% of women in the vagina and is usually harmless in adults. Babies can pick up GBS during a vaginal birth and a small number of babies can develop a GBS infection which can be serious.

There is much debate internationally and nationally regarding the best way to prevent newborn GBS infections. One approach is to screen all pregnant women by taking a swab at 36–37 weeks from the vagina or vagina and anus and to treat all women who screen positive with IV antibiotics in labour. However, this approach can miss up to 5% of women who carry GBS as the culture result takes three days to obtain.

In Queensland a risk based approach has been adopted where IV antibiotics are administered to all women who are at risk of GBS.

Antibiotics are recommended during labour if you:

  • Have a raised temperature (above 38 degrees) during labour
  • Have prolonged ruptured membranes
  • Are in premature labour (before 37 weeks)
  • Have tested positive for GBS during your current pregnancy
  • Have previously had a baby with positive GBS bacteria
  • Have tested positive for GBS during a previous pregnancy

More GBS Information.

Listeriosis is caused by eating certain foods contaminated with the Listeria bacteria. Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to infection and it can cause miscarriage and premature labour. There are a number of foods that are best avoided in pregnancy. For further information on Listeria see:



All pregnant women are screened for immunity to Rubella and ideally should have a booster vaccination prior to pregnancy if they are not immune. 



Parvovirus or Fifth disease, otherwise known as slap cheek disease, is a common childhood illness particularly in young children. In pregnancy it can cause intrauterine growth restriction and a condition called hydrops and can result in stillbirth. If you suspect you have been in contact with someone with parvovirus a blood test will determine if you are immune or at risk of infection.


It is recommended that all pregnant women be immunised during pregnancy after 20 weeks to prevent whooping cough.


Read about CMV from Queensland Health.

There is no clear evidence that HFMD causes any problems with pregnancy or the unborn baby. However, pregnant women may pass the virus to the baby if they are infected shortly before delivery or have symptoms at the time of delivery. Newborns infected with the virus can, very rarely, develop serious and sometimes fatal illness.

Read more about Coxsackie Virus from Queensland Health.

Herpes infection passed on to a newborn baby is a serious condition and is associated with a risk of neonatal death

Read more about Herpes during pregnancy from Queensland Health. 

Toxoplasmosis is a disease caused by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii (T.gondii). This parasite occurs commonly throughout the world and infects birds and mammals, including humans. A very small number of unborn babies whose mothers are infectious with Toxoplasma (particularly if it is a first infection during the early stages of the pregnancy) can develop a serious illness. 

Read more about Toxoplasmosis from Queensland Health.