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Warning of potentially fatal and little recognised virus that has broken out among newborn babies in Queensland.

The Courier Mail reports there have already been 55 cases of parechovirus in the state this year, 90 per cent of them among children less than three months old. There were 172 cases of parechovirus recorded in Queensland last year.

It can cause mild respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms in babies but in newborn infants, can lead to serious complications such as hepatitis or encephalitis, and can be fatal.

Infectious diseases expert Dr Theo Sloots said the very young were in the “danger period” to contract parechovirus, which is highly contagious.

The virus broke out in Brisbane in September and Dr Sloots has since tracked it spreading through infants on the Gold Coast, Toowoomba and, last month, in Townsville, Mackay and Bundaberg.

“It’s an important issue,” he said. “When children get sick they go to the GP who doesn’t recognise it as parechovirus. They just think it’s an infection. Awareness needs to be raised among GPs.”

“It’s in the kids under three months that it causes severe disease and in a considerable number of those, it involves the central nervous system and they go into intensive care,” Dr Sloots said.

The virus spreads person to person through respiratory droplets or faeces.

Symptoms of parechovirus via Better Health

Parechovirus can cause no symptoms at all, but newborn children or young infants with parechovirus may develop: •a high temperature (fever)
•irritability, lethargy or off food
•a rash
•fast breathing
•diarrhoea or loose stools.

A more severe blood infection (sepsis) can occasionally occur where babies can become unwell very quickly. This requires management in hospital to monitor your child closely. Rarely, the virus can affect the lining of the brain, leading to more severe symptoms such as seizures or muscle jerks.

Treatment for parechovirus
There is no specific treatment for parechovirus. Fever in children under six months of age needs review by a doctor. If diarrhoea is present, offer the child plenty of fluids.

If there are any worrying symptoms or you remain concerned about anything, consult your doctor immediately.

Prevention of parechovirus
There is no vaccine available against parechovirus.

Good personal hygiene is essential to prevent the spread of parechovirus to others, both for those infected and their carers.

Share your comments below.

  • This is getting way too close to home and I’m in Melbourne, extremely concerned :-/

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  • this is scary and i have never heard of it before! is there anymore information on it?.

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  • So scary. Everyday it seems there is something new to watch out for. It’s hard not to worry.

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  • Sympathy to all those affected – dreadful.

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  • I’ve not heard of this virus before but it sounds very serious.

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  • Oh dear, this is terrible and very worrying.

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  • Where are all these things coming from?! Very scary and worrying reading about all these things.

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  • Scary, especially when Gp’s don’t recognise it and there’s no specific treatment !

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  • I have never heard of this before. Sounds like a big worry

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  • My comment came up as error. so I will try again.
    This just shows Whooping Cough Vaccination…..and others…..should be compulsory. The Program should never have been cancelled. Why do parents have to watch their babies suffer because some people are selfish, and possibly lose their fight for life the same as little Riley did.

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  • This is so scary. And it seems that you spread it so easy!

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  • Not a very nice thing to hear about – am amazed it hasn’t been all over the news media by now – guess that will be the next breaking news. Hope all those babies have recovered.

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  • So scary. I hope to god this virus doesn’t take any lives

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  • How scary are all these new risks to newborns

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  • I hope all the babies that have contracted this virus fully recover.

    Reply

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