Parents around Australia are being urged to keep an eye on young babies following the news that 55 newborns have been struck down in Queensland by a rare, and potentially dangerous virus.
Parecheovirus is a gastrointestinal and respiratory infection. In 50-80 per cent of adults, the virus shows no symptoms however for young babies (especially those under three months of age) the impact can be devastating with the virus known to cause meningitis, encephalitis, seizures and paralysis.
In 2015, Queensland Health reported 172 cases of parecheovirus. In the last month alone, two babies have been left fighting for their lives in intensive care units. One of these babies needed to have her chest cut open surgically.
I know first hand just how quickly the virus can take hold.
My daughter, Isla, was three months old she was struck down with parecheovirus.
She woke one morning, perhaps a little grizzly, but otherwise well. Being a weekend, my husband and I bundled our tribe of children into the car to complete mundane errands. When we arrived back at home I got Isla out of her car seat and noticed that she felt quite hot. Sure enough the thermometer confirmed that she was running a pretty significant fever.
When she started rejecting feeds over the next couple of hours, I grew more concerned.
Mother’s instinct told me that this was more than just a minor bug.
Over the course of the afternoon she went downhill. I called the medical advice line and told them that she was now vomiting. Not a little newborn vomit, violent projectile vomit. At their advice I arranged for the after hours doctor to visit to check her over.
He arrived within the hour and upon seeing Isla, advised me to take her straight to hospital. He called ahead to let them know that we were coming. At this stage, her temperature was up around 39 degrees.
That night was horrible.