What Is Parechovirus?
Parechovirus (pah-RAY-koh-vy-rus) is a virus that commonly infects kids. It is not a new virus, and it usually isn’t harmful. Most children have had a parechovirus infection by the time they reach kindergarten. Infections tend to happen most often in the late summer and early fall, and typically peak every other year.
What Are the Signs & Symptoms of Parechovirus Infection?
There are four “species” of parechovirus, and each has different types. Only one type (called PeV-A) is known to cause disease in humans.
Parechoviruses don’t usually cause symptoms. When they do, a person can have:
- a sore or scratchy throat
- a runny nose
- coughing and sneezing
- nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea
- a rash
What Should Parents Know About Parechovirus?
Parechovirus is a common infection in young children. Often, they don’t even know they’ve been infected because they have no symptoms. If symptoms happen, they are usually mild.
Rarely, parechovirus can cause a more severe infection, especially in babies under 3 months of age (particularly those under 1 month). That’s because their immune systems haven’t had time to get stronger. There have been a few reports of parechovirus infection in newborn babies who have gotten very sick, and a couple have even died.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued an alert to doctors and public health experts to consider this virus when caring for small babies who are sick. The alert was not aimed at parents, who should be no more concerned about parechovirus right now than they are about many other common viruses.
What Should Parents Do When Their Infant Is Sick?
Parechovirus is one of many germs that can cause illness in babies. The guidelines on when to get medical care for an infant are the same for all infections.
Parents should call the doctor if an infant younger than 3 months old:
- has a temperature of 100.4°F (38°C) or higher, or a temperature below 97°F (36.1°C)
- isn’t able to feed well, especially if the baby appears dehydrated. Signs include drowsiness, a dry or sticky mouth, sunken eyes or soft spot on the head, no wet diaper in 6–8 hours, crying with little or no tears.
- has vomiting or diarrhea
- develops a rash
- is fussy, irritable, or crying and can’t be calmed down
- is having trouble breathing
- is very pale
- is extremely sleepy and hard to wake
What Can Help Prevent Parechovirus Infection?
As with other infections, the best prevention measures include washing hands well and often, avoiding contact with sick people, and keeping household surfaces clean and disinfected. Wearing a mask can reduce the spread of germs from a person’s mouth and nose.