Parechovirus (PeV) is a potential threat to infants and young children, so the CDC is alerting parents and healthcare providers to be vigilant.
Although parechovirus isn’t well known, the CDC has been receiving reports of illness from healthcare workers in multiple states since May. The CDC is encouraging pediatricians, nurses, and other health care providers to evaluate it as a possible cause of newborns’ unexplained fever, seizures, or sepsis-like symptoms.
The parechovirus belongs to the family of picornaviruses and is a frequent pediatric virus.
The parechovirus family is large, with several subtypes. The CDC claims that the PeV-A3 strain accounts for the vast majority of reported infections and is typically linked to life-threatening illnesses. The advisory does not, however, specify which states have reported infections or whether any fatalities have resulted from the virus. It is also unclear how the 2022 season’s reported PeV cases compare to those of previous years.
Here’s some reassurance: most kids have already caught PeV by the time they reach kindergarten age. Therefore, it’s possible that your kid has it and you didn’t know it.
Where Can I Find More Information About Parechovirus Symptoms?
Doctor and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics Florencia Segura explain that in most cases, symptoms of PeV are no different than those of any other common children virus, including cough, runny nose, diarrhea, fever, and rash (FAAP).
However, you should contact your doctor right once if your baby at home stops eating, has a fever, low tone, or odd movements that could indicate a seizure. These signs may indicate a severe case of parechovirus disease.
The CDC reports that PeV’s incubation period (the time from infection to the onset of symptoms) is unknown.
Diagnosing and Treating Infant Parechovirus
Unfortunately, parechovirus has no specific treatment. Rest, plenty of fluids and over-the-counter drugs like acetaminophen are ideal for treating mild symptoms. Don’t administer aspirin to kids under 12 unless instructed to do so by a medical professional.
Although babies and young children with severe PeV symptoms will require hospitalization, most improve within a few days with medical care.
If your child has PeV, be on the lookout for signs of lethargy or listlessness. Make an emergency call to 911 or rush them to the nearest hospital if you can’t get them up. No matter the suspected reason, parents of infants younger than 3 months old should seek medical attention for a fever.
Do Parents Need to be Worried about Parechovirus?
CDC issued a warning about parechovirus. This warning is crucial so that doctors would consider it as a potential diagnosis for any infant exhibiting symptoms of febrile illness, sepsis, or meningitis.
Since parechoviruses tend to spread during the summer and fall, this warning comes at a good time.
Avoiding Parechovirus Infection
The CDC’s warning is a helpful reminder for parents with infants younger than three months to maintain the safety measures recommended by pediatricians.
Because of their immature immune systems and lack of immunological memory, babies require extra precautions, such as frequent hand washing and limiting interactions with anyone who is ill, including children in daycare and school.
The best strategy to protect newborns from parechovirus is to maintain the standard COVID-19 precautions, as the virus can be communicated through direct touch (through feces and saliva) or through the respiratory route (by cough).
Wash your hands often with soap and water, avoid crowded indoor locations for a few months, and consider having guests wear masks.
Having a toddler or a child in school might naturally make things more challenging. When a baby is born, some parents choose to keep their older children at home for a while. If this is not an option, make sure everyone is regularly washing their hands, reminding other children not to touch the baby’s face or hands, and having ill siblings keep their distance.
The CDC issued a health notice to inform parents and medical professionals about parechovirus. As a result, the relevant healthcare providers will be aware of this possibility being a diagnosis.
Parents shouldn’t panic, but they should keep an eye out for any signs that go beyond what’s normally associated with a minor infection and have their child checked out if they develop. For parents, it’s good to know that most cases aren’t life-threatening. Preventing illness in a newborn is as easy as practicing good hygiene and avoiding crowded public places.