The alert warns health professionals, hospitals, and clinics to be on the lookout for PeV and test for the virus in babies that are showing possible symptoms of the disease. It goes on to say that there have been reports of the PeV-A3 strain of the virus across multiple states — though they cannot compare the rate of infection with previous years and therefore do not know if cases are higher than usual.
Parechoviruses are common and most kids get infected by the time they reach kindergarten. But certain strains of the virus, like the PeV-A3 that is circulating, can cause severe symptoms that can be extremely damaging and even fatal to small infants, especially those under a month old and premies.
The warning comes after a baby died of the disease in June in Connecticut. Ronan Delancy was born in May and only lived for 34 days after contracting the virus at just eight days old.
He presented with a rash on his face, a red chest, and a lot of crying. But then the crying stopped.
“In that span of 20 days, they did every possible test,” the baby’s mom, Katherine, told CT Insider. “They did genetic testing, looking if it was an inborn error of metabolism. They checked him for epilepsy and certain seizure disorders. They also were looking to see if he maybe had a head injury of some sort.”
Baby Ronan was having seizures, and the doctors couldn’t stop them. He was placed in a medically induced coma but never woke up. He died in his mother’s arms.
According to the CDC alert, symptoms of PeV in older kids include upper respiratory tract infection, fever, and rash. But symptoms in infants can escalate to sepsis-like responses, high fever, bright red rashes, high irritability, seizures, and meningitis.
This virus mostly circulates during summer and fall. There is no specific treatment for the disease. Deaths are most common among babies who are younger than 90 days old — and even babies who survive can suffer life-long neurological issues.
It’s very important to understand that the CDC does not know for sure if the dangerous strain of parechovirus is more common this year than in others — and that they are not issuing a public warning to parents at this time. What they are doing is reminding doctors and clinicians to keep a lookout for the disease and test babies for the virus who are presenting the “red, angry baby” symptoms. It’s good for new parents to be aware, too.