• A dangerous strain of parechovirus is circulating in the US, infecting newborns.
  • At least one child died in Connecticut, and the CDC has tracked the virus in “several states.”
  • Symptoms may include loss of appetite, sleeplessness, high fever, and unexplained rashes.

Baby Ronan was a “healthy, full-term” 8-pound-5-ounce baby when he was born on May 21 of this year.

But 10 days after Ronan was born, his mother, Kat Delancey, noticed a little redness on his face. Maybe too long in the sun.

He had no fever, and “looked perfectly fine otherwise,” Delancey told Insider.

A few days later, Ronan was furious.

“Crying and crying,” she said.

His chest turned bright red, he stopped eating as much, and he seemed sleepy and low on energy.

Doctors suspected constipation, but “I just had a bad feeling,” DeLancey said. “It didn’t look good to me.”

In the middle of the night, the distraught mother rushed her newborn to the hospital. There, a presenter noticed that he looked pale. Clinicians attached an oxygen saturation monitor to his foot, then to his little toe. A reading that should register around 95% in a healthy person should read 70% first and then 20%.

Immediately the child was whisked away and carried inside. Doctors confirmed Ronan had a seizure. A brain scan showed some damage, possibly repairable. But it took four days of testing to figure out exactly what was wrong. Ronan He had parecovirus.

“Nobody seems to believe they have the virus,” Delancey said. Perhaps this is a genetic condition, some doctors have speculated. “The doctor said they thought it might be a head injury. They asked me if I had ever dropped my child? Was there someone else holding my child?”

At first, Delancey was assured that her son would make a full recovery from the virus. After all, most children and teenagers carry this virus to some degree. But Ronan didn’t.

Many children have a parecovirus infection at some point, and many do not know it

An image of Ronan, a day old, lying in a hospital bed with his eyes open

Ronan as a newborn, one day old.

Courtesy of Kat DeLancy

Parecovirus is part of a large family of viruses (Picornaviridae) causes many types of viral diseases ranging from simple.

Common cold

(rhinovirus) to paralytic polio.

Most kids get some kind parechovirus before starting class. In most cases, the disease disappears on its own within seven days. Unless a patient is seriously ill, the diagnosis is rarely attempted.

“We say, ‘Oh, it’s probably Pareco or Coxsackie virus,'” says Dr. Andrew Wong, a primary care physician at Hartford Healthcare. “We give them Tylenol, hydration, Advil, and they get better in a week.”

But nationally, infectious disease doctors say a particular type of parecovirus, called PeV-A3, is increasingly associated with severe disease in very young children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a special Alert Tuesday for health care providers; Reminding children to get tested for parechovirus Those with unexplained fever, seizures, loss of appetite, irritability, rash, and insomnia.

‘Hot, red, angry babies’

sleeping baby ronan

Baby Ronan is 10 days old, with some redness on his face.

Courtesy of Kat DeLancy

Dr. Claire Bocchini, an infectious disease specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital who has treated critically ill children with parvovirus, says that one of the most “classic” symptoms of severe illness in A3 may be seizures. A virus has entered the brain.

“You can have babies who are very, very angry, irritable, then very sleepy and don’t eat well,” she says.

The virus can cause sepsis, which affects the baby’s heart and liver. Eventually, parecovirus A3 can kill newborn babies or cause severe brain damage.

Other children do not show external signs of infection and grow normally. Most high-risk cases occur in babies less than one month old, like Ronan. But even a six-month-old child can be exposed to a bad parecovirus disease.

in In 2017, pediatricians and infectious disease experts in New Zealand wrote a paper In the prestigious Journal of Microbiology, he acknowledged that parecovirus is “highly recognized as a serious viral infection” in children.

“In young children, the typical clinical presentation is fever, severe irritability and rash, often leading to descriptions of ‘hot, red, angry babies’,” he said.

Ronan didn’t run a fever, and his mom believes that’s a big part of why it took so long for providers to figure out what was going on.

“It took a lot of pushing and shoving and challenges to get it in my son,” she said. “And honestly, if I don’t just keep getting upset, I don’t think they’ll keep trying.”

There is no cure for parechovirus, but there are Immune system It is usually given to very serious patients, including Ronan. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don’t.

Ronan is no better. The longer the infection lasted, the worse the brain damage.

The scans he showed his mother near the end of his life “showed areas where there was no more tissue,” she said. “They said his entire frontal lobe was basically gone. His entire parietal lobe was almost completely gone.”

There was not much to do for the boy who died on the 34th day.

Baby Ronan is lying in the hospital, sleeping.

Courtesy of Kat DeLancy

Washing hands and avoiding kissing or sharing drinks is crucial.

Boccini is careful not to blame parents when their children become seriously ill with parecovirus.

“I always tell parents what they can do to prevent these infections when they happen,” she says. Newborn immune systems, still developing, are very vulnerable to all kinds of viral problems.

Still, because people can shed parecovirus in their feces for up to six months after infection, good hand washing is an important part of prevention.

“Soap and water for 20 seconds,” Bocchini said. “After you go to the toilet, after you change a diaper, before you eat, before you feed your baby, this is always important.”

Because there is no good surveillance or testing for this virus, it is unclear how common fatal infections like Ronan’s are. one A 2010 autopsy study from Wisconsin It has shown the presence of parecovirus in at least 18 deaths of infants in that state over 17 years, but it is unclear whether those viruses were responsible for the infant deaths.

Delancey, Wong and Bocchini now hope that greater awareness of the virus and testing will help providers better understand the scope of the problem. This could lead to antiviral treatments for the disease, rapid tests, or one day a vaccine for pregnant women.

“It’s a very long-term goal, but she hopes that in a decade or so they’ll be able to give them a drug,” Delancey said. Something to treat Before going to the hospital.”

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