Virus Causing Severe Illnesses In Babies Found In Multiple States

By Jason Hall

July 15, 2022

Newborn baby in first of many small hospital beds
Photo: Getty Images

A virus capable of causing seizures, meningitis and other severe illnesses in infants under 3 months old has been reported in several states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency issued an emergency preparedness and response alert on Tuesday (July 12) to doctors and health departments regarding a number of parechovirus cases reported since May.

The CDC's alert didn't specify which in states or how many total cases were reported.

"Since May 2022, CDC has received reports from healthcare providers in multiple states of PeV infections in neonates and young infants," the alert stated. "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 and to test for PeV in children with signs and symptoms compatible with PeV infection."

The CDC acknowledged that, because there isn't systematic surveillance of the disease, it hasn't determined how the recently reported cases compare to previous seasons, however, increased testing during recent years are believed to have lead to a higher number cases.

The virus commonly circulates in the summer and fall and is spread through sneezing, coughing, saliva and feces, with the most serious illnesses typically affecting children 6 months and younger, whose white blood cells have vanished or nearly disappeared.

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