Parechovirus (PeV) in Children: What You Need to Know

On July 12th, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCD) issued a health alert to notify clinicians and public health officials that parechovirus (PeV) is currently circulating in the United States. Additionally, this spring, a cluster of 23 infants were admitted to a hospital in Nashville over a six week period, Tennessee for treatment. As there is presently not widespread surveillance for PeVs and new testing methods that detect parechovirus have only recently become available in the United States, it is not clear how the number of infections reported in 2022 compares with previous years.

While Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has cared for children with parechovirus between the months of May, June and July, we have seen a decrease in the number of neonates with parechovirus over the past few weeks.

PeV’s are common childhood viruses that are related to enteroviruses. They are widespread and circulate around the world with infections typically noted in the late summer and fall, similar to enteroviruses. PeVs can cause a wide variety of symptoms, and typically presents differently in children of different ages. There is typically no specific treatment for PeV infection beyond supportive care.

What are symptoms of Parechovirus?

Infants and children between the ages 6 months and 5 years old can experience:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Cough or upper respiratory tract infection
  • Rash

While it should be noted that long term effects are extremely rare, in infants less than 3 months old, severe illness can occur, including seizures, meningitis and sepsis-like illness.

How is Parechovirus spread?

PeV can be passed from person to person by the fecal-oral and respiratory routes. Children can be contagious for several weeks after infection, emphasizing the importance of hand hygiene and handwashing as the best method of prevention. Additionally, it is recommended to avoid people who are sick and to keep household surfaces disinfected.

You should contact your child’s pediatrician if your child is exhibiting:

  • Behavior that is not normal for your child
  • High fever
  • Irritability and cannot be calmed down
  • Fast heart rate or breathing
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Dehydration and is unable to drink fluids, does not have tears when they cry and has no wet diaper in 6-8 hours.

This content is general information and is not specific medical advice. Always consult with a doctor or healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns about the health of a child. In case of an urgent concern or emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department right away. Some physicians and affiliated healthcare professionals on the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta team are independent providers and are not our employees.