Outbreak of virus that causes meningitis affects younger babies in Kansas City

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Kansas City, MO, United States (4E) – Kansas City health authorities are investigating why a meningitis virus that usually affects infants 3 to 8 weeks old have infected 14 babies 1 to 2 weeks old since June.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) is looking at HPeV3 infections at other health care facilities as part of the investigation, KDHE spokeswoman Aimee Rosenow said on Monday.

HPeV3 is one of the so-called parechoviruses that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and respiratory illnesses. The virus has been associated with meningitis in newborns and can cause a severe inflammatory response by the body’s immune system, leading to fever, irritability, seizures and rash.

Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, the infectious disease director at Children’s Mercy Hospital, described babies with parechovirus as having high fever, irritable, high-pitched cry, a little rash over the trunk and abdominal distention. They also don’t want to feed and sleep.

Cases of the HPeV3 infections were reported at the Shawnee Mission Medical Center and Children’s Mercy Hospital. Nine of the infected newborns are from Kansas City while the rest are from Missouri. None of the infants have died.

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