Parechovirus is a virus that typically causes a mild illness like the common cold. Most children have mild symptoms, but some children with parechovirus do not have any symptoms. Rarely, parechovirus can cause more serious illness in babies or young infants.
Parechovirus is not a new virus. Parechovirus is closely related to enteroviruses, which commonly cause childhood infections.
Parechovirus typically causes a mild illness with symptoms such as:
Rarely, parechovirus infection can lead to more severe illness in young infants such as sepsis (severe blood infection) or neurological conditions such as seizures or meningitis/encephalitis (infection of the brain).
Young infants, particularly those under three months of age, can have more severe disease due to parechovirus compared to older children and adult. Infants can have fever, upper respiratory symptoms, diarrhea, or rash but may also develop more severe symptoms such as sepsis (severe blood infection) or neurological conditions such as seizures or meningitis or encephalitis (infection of the brain).
Parechovirus is more common in the summer or early fall.
In the last few months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has received reports of more cases of brain infection related to parechovirus in infants than in a typical year. The CDC issued a health alert on July 12th to raise awareness that this virus is circulating and to encourage pediatricians to consider this virus when evaluating young infants presenting with severe illness such as sepsis-like syndrome or neurological conditions such as seizures, meningitis, or encephalitis.
Parechovirus is spread from person-to-person through contact with an infected person’s respiratory secretions (such as through coughing or sneezing), saliva, or stool.
Good hygiene is the best way to protect against spreading parechovirus.
There is no treatment or medication specific for parechovirus. Most cases resolve on their own without long-term complications.
There is no vaccine for parechovirus.
Testing for parechovirus is not routinely required as most children have mild self-limited illnesses. Pediatricians may consider testing for parechovirus when evaluating a young infant with severe illness such as sepsis-like syndrome or neurological conditions such as seizures, meningitis, or encephalitis.