Human Parechovirus (HPeV) has resulted in more than 200 hospital admissions since December, it is a type of virus which is closely related to enteroviruses.
“I just started to have a bad feeling that something wasn’t right,”
Adelaide mum, Ali Tessier told 9 News of her experience with the virus and how it was almost life threatening to her newborn son, Louis.
What is Parechovirus?
Parechovirus is a virus that usually has very mild symptoms, or none at all. Sometimes it can cause serious illness in babies and young children, Health Direct states.
After Louis would not stop crying, Ali knew something was not right. She rushed him (only seven-days-old at the time) to the nearby Adelaide Women’s and Children’s Hospital where tests revealed he had the potentially deadly Parechovirus.
“And then an hour later he had a huge seizure, he stopped breathing, and they had to rush him up to intensive care. It was just so frightening because every time a doctor would come in I think, ‘oh my gosh, what are they going to say and am I going to take my baby home?'” Ms Tessier said.
The virus had caused Louis brain to swell and he spent 6 days on life support, the swelling has caused now long term eyesight impairing, 9 months later.
What are the symptoms?
First diagnosed in Australia in 2013, A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia reveals the alarming rise of human parechovirus in babies and young children with the study’s authors noting the number of children diagnosed is on the rise.
Children under 3-to-6 months are particularly vulnerable to HPeV and it pays to note that most parechovirus infections cause no or mild symptoms, including gastroenteritis or influenza-like illness.
“It’s really heartbreaking because you bring a perfectly healthy baby into the world and now we just have hope that he can learn to see,” Ali said.
Parechovirus on the rise in Australia
Epidemics of human parechovirus (HPeV) causing disease in young children have occurred every 2 years in Australia since 2013.
Dr Britton from the University of Sydney says, “Characteristically, young infants present with fever, irritability and on occasions a diffuse rash, referred to clinically as ‘red, hot and angry’ babies.”
Between July and December 2017, PAEDS recorded more than 200 cases of hospitalised HPeV infection in young infants associated with the current epidemic.
If you think your baby may be showing signs of a fever, rash or irritability, always consult your doctor.
Ali Tessier adds, “When your instincts tell you something, you get your baby to the doctor or to the hospital.”
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