29 November 2013

NSW Health has received several reports of babies aged less than 16 weeks old who have been diagnosed with parechovirus infection.

Parechovirus infection usually causes mild respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms, however occasionally it may lead to more severe symptoms. Some infected babies get quite unwell quickly, but typically recover in a few days.

Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Director of Communicable Diseases Branch said severe cases of parechovirus infection can have a rapid onset. In addition to a high fever there are a range of other signs including a red rash, irritability, diarrhoea, hepatitis or encephalitis.

"Most cases make a complete recovery after several days in hospital."

"Parechovirus is usually spread from person to person through contact with respiratory droplets, saliva or faeces from an infected person."

“Parechovirus infection can be hard to prevent, but washing hands with soap and water after going to the toilet, before eating, after wiping noses, and after changing nappies or soiled clothing should help reduce the spread of infection,” Dr Sheppeard said.

Since October the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network and the John Hunter Children’s Hospital have seen around 20 admissions for suspected cases of parechovirus

NSW Health has provided information to hospital clinicians to raise awareness and provide advice on laboratory testing.

As always, parents of sick infants should contact their doctor or Health Direct on 1800 022 222 for advice. 

Further information on Parechovirus can be found at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/infectious