The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warns doctors about the spread of parechovirus, a common viral infection that can cause serious illness in infants under three months of age.
From April 12 to May 24 of this year, according to a report from the CDC, 23 babies were admitted to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, to be treated for parechovirus.
On July 12, the CDC issued a health advisory to clinicians and public health departments raising awareness of the circulating parechovirus.
While parechovirus (or PeV) is common in children ages 6 months to 5 years, it can be more serious for infants and cause sepsis-like illness, seizures and meningitis or meningoencephalitis, the CDC said.
In its health advisory, the CDC said parechovirus has no set treatment, but a proper diagnosis can change doctors’ management strategies for the disease in infants.
Signs and symptoms of parechovirus can include fever, agitation and poor nutrition, the CDC said.
In its July 29 report, the CDC named the 23 infant cases of parechovirus in the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital an “unusually large cluster of infections”.
Of the 23 cases, 21 babies recovered without complications, the CDC said. Of the remaining two, one child could be at risk for hearing loss and blood clots, while the other could be at risk for severe developmental delay, the CDC report said.
The babies were all between 5 days and 3 months old, with a median age of 24 days. Ten patients were male and 13 were female. and
Of the 23 cases at the Children’s Hospital in Nashville, 22 babies became symptomatic in their community, while one — a premature baby — started showing symptoms in the NICU, the CDC said in its report.
To prevent parechovirus, doctors recommend washing hands, avoiding contact with people who are sick and keeping household surfaces disinfected, according to kidshealth.org.