Parents of newborns warned after huge spike in potentially fatal virus

Natasha Squarey

Parents of newborn babies in Queensland are being warned to be vigilant after a worrying spike in a highly contagious and potentially deadly infection.

There have been 55 cases of parechovirus in the state in the past three months.

One family has told 7 News of their nightmare ordeal when their baby, Stella, was admitted to hospital with the infection.

Stella fell ill at just ten days old and was diagnosed with parechovirus. Photo: 7 News

She was just ten days old when her parents noticed a fever and a racing heartbeat.

After several tests, doctors determined she had parechovirus and she was rushed to the intensive care unit.

Baby Stella has since recovered from the virus. Photo: 7 News

Five months on, Stella has recovered but doctors have flagged a huge spike in the number newborn babies in Queensland contracting the virus.

It broke out in Brisbane in September and has since spread across the state.

“They usually have a quite severe infection. They get high temperatures, they may get a rash or they even have like a type of blood infection,” Infectious diseases expert Dr Theo Sloots said.

Symptoms of parechovirus in babies include high temperature, a rash or a blood infection. Photo: 7 News

Stella’s mum, Janelle Schembri said her little girl “had tubes everywhere, she couldn’t feed, she couldn’t do anything… It wasn’t very nice”.

“But it’s just one of those things where you’re baby is either going to be strong enough to get through it, or they’re not,” she said.

There is no current treatment or drug for this virus. Doctors are still working on a vaccine.

News break – February 16