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CBS News: Hospitals report more cases of parechovirus in infants

By Alexander Tin

Multiple health systems are now reporting a potential uptick in serious cases of parechovirus infections in infants, after cases largely disappeared from children's hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic

A new report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documents how cases have increased at one medical center in Tennessee, which has already hospitalized 29 cases so far this year, including 23 infants in a six-week period. 

That marks an increase from previous years: only 19 cases were detected over five months in 2018.

While parechoviruses commonly infect children, triggering only mild symptoms in many kids, the virus can lead to severe disease when infecting babies younger than three months old. Some develop sepsis-like symptoms or central nervous system infections. It can also raise the risk of longer-term developmental problems. 

Fever, fussiness, and a low appetite were the most common symptoms among babies admitted in the study.

Most children have likely survived parechovirus infections with few or no issues by kindergarten, the CDC says, which can be spread through respiratory symptoms for weeks and via stool for months.

"They outnumber enteroviruses, which are well known to pediatricians as a cause of summer meningitis to little infants. Parechoviruses are the most common important viral pathogen that affects the central nervous system in babies, bar none," said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, dean of the University of Missouri-Kansas City's school of medicine.

Jackson's hospital – Children's Mercy Kansas City – is also among those that have been regularly testing for and researching the virus for years in young infants in the hospital with potential symptoms.


Read the full article via CBS News

Division of Infectious Diseases at Children's Mercy