The CDC has issued a health advisory that a particularly dangerous strain of parechovirus called PeV-A3 is currently circulating in the United States. CDC Health Alert: Parechovirus in Newborns & Infants describes this illness and how parents can keep their infants safe.
CDC Health Alert: Parechovirus in Newborns & Infants
As the CDC alert states: Parechoviruses are “a group of viruses known to cause a spectrum of disease in humans. Clinicians are encouraged to include PeV in the differential diagnoses of infants presenting with fever, sepsis-like syndrome, or neurologic illness (seizures, meningitis) without another known cause.” While these viruses are not new to the US, the PeV-A3 strain appears to effect infants, the elderly and the immune compromised most recently.
There is no vaccine for PeV-A3. Parents can look out for these symptoms and contact their pediatrician:
- respiratory differences than usual, such as seeming to work hard to breathe or breathing very fast.
- botchy or discolored skin
In babies age 6 months or older, common symptoms also may include upper respiratory tract infection, fever, and rash.
How Can I Keep My Infant Safe?
Parechovirus is contagious via fecal, oral and respiratory routes. The incubation period is unknown but the CDC reports that a person can remain contagious for up to “3 weeks through the respiratory tract and up to 6 months through the gastrointestinal tract”. This means the best ways to prevent transmission are ones with which we are already very familiar:
- hand washing with soap and water for all caregivers, before and after feeding and eating and especially after diaper changes.
- mask wearing
- social distancing
- cleaning and sanitizing surfaces
- keep baby out of crowded spaces and limit the amount of well wishers who want to kiss and hold baby.
This alert will be updated as more information becomes available. More tips on staying healthy in general are here. As always parents should consult their child’s primary care physician with questions or concerns.
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