Viruses that can cause serious illness in babies seen in multiple states, the CDC warns

Health providers in several states have reported a virus that can cause seizures, meningitis and other serious diseases in infants under 3 months old, federal officials said Thursday.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning warning doctors and public health departments that cases of parechovirus have been seen in newborns and young infants since May.

The warning does not say which states have seen infections in young children, or how many cases have been reported.

The counseling notes that because there is no systematic monitoring for parechovirus, it is not clear how the number of cases is compared to previous seasons. But increased testing in recent years could account for a higher number of cases, the agency said.

Every positive case registered by the agency has involved PeV-A3, the type of parechovirus that most often causes serious illness, the CDC said.

The virus, a common childhood pathogen that circulates in summer and fall and spreads through sneezing, coughing, saliva and feces, causes less serious illness in children older than 6 months, the agency said. Symptoms include rash, upper respiratory tract infection, and fever.

Experts who have examined the spinal fluid of babies with severe parechovirus infections have found that their white blood cells have disappeared or almost disappeared.

There is no treatment for the virus.

The warning urges doctors to test for the virus and keep infants hospitalized with infections together to avoid spreading the disease to nurseries or neonatal intensive care units.

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