Thu, 08/01/2019 | News

Parechovirus (HPeV): an important emerging infection in young infants

Epidemics of human parechovirus (HPeV) causing disease in young children have occurred every 2 years in Australia since 2013.

Research published in the Medical Journal of Australia reported that since August 2017, PAEDS has been tracking an increased frequency of HPeV cases and between July and December 2017, more than 200 cases of hospitalised HPeV infection were reported in young infants.

Severe disease can manifest as meningoencephalitis, seizures or sepsis-like presentations (including septic shock), or less common presentations including signs of surgical abdomen.

This research shows that testing for HPeV by specific molecular tests is indicated in children younger than 6 months of age with characteristic presentations without another confirmed diagnosis including febrile illnesses with other suggestive features (e.g., rash, seizures), sepsis syndromes (including shock), and suspected meningoencephalitis (which may be detected by magnetic resonance imaging only).

There are no effective antiviral therapies. Treatment is primarily supportive, including management of complications. Some infants with severe HPeV infection may have adverse neurodevelopment. Follow-up by a paediatrician is recommended.

For further information listen to this podcast from the Medical Journal of Australia featuring Dr Philip Britton PAEDS investigator.