CDC Issues Warning: Virus Dangerous to Infants Circulating in 'Multiple' States

Parechovirus is now spreading in the United States, and the CDC urges health care providers to be aware of symptoms and to test for the virus in infants

Newborn baby
Photo: File: Getty

Parents of infants should be on the lookout for symptoms of a virus that has been detected in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Health Alert Network Health Advisory on July 12 for parechovirus after one infant death and other reports of the virus in multiple states since May 2022.

Human parechoviruses (PeVs) are common childhood pathogens that spread through respiratory droplets or the fecal-oral route. The virus can result in asymptomatic or mild symptoms — or severe illness, especially in babies, according to the CDC.

In children from 6 months to 5 years old, symptoms may include upper respiratory tract infection, fever, and rash, with most children having been infected by the time they start kindergarten.

However, in infants less than 3 months, "severe illness can occur, including sepsis-like illness, seizures, and meningitis or meningoencephalitis, particularly in infants younger than 1 month," the CDC website says.

In June, a Connecticut baby died after contracting the virus when he was 8 days old. Ronan Delancy only lived 34 days.

According to his mom Katherine, he had a rash and his chest was red, she told CT Insider. He seemed less active all of a sudden and then just stopped crying. He had seizures. "They checked him for epilepsy and certain seizure disorders," she told the outlet. "They also were looking to see if he maybe had a head injury of some sort."

Before he died, the virus "attacked his brain and ... created a condition called Encephalomalacia," destroying the white matter in much of his brain, according to the family's GoFundMe page.

Because parechovirus symptoms may be similar to other viruses, the CDC encourages physicians to be especially aware of it and to test for the virus in young babies that are showing possible symptoms. Tests are done through blood, respiratory secretions, fecal matter or cerebrospinal fluid.

"Because there is presently no systematic surveillance for PeVs in the United States, it is not clear how the number of PeV cases reported in 2022 compares to previous seasons," says the CDC. "PeV laboratory testing has become more widely available in recent years, and it is possible that increased testing has led to a higher number of PeV diagnoses compared with previous years."

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