The symptoms observed in children with human parechovirus (HPeV) infection vary widely from asymptomatic or mild gastrointestinal infections to more severe central nervous system infections and sepsis-like disease. Many of the disease associations are, however, only suggestive. In this study, we examined the connection between HPeV and acute otitis media, lower respiratory infections and suspected central nervous system infections.
An HPeV specific real-time reverese transcriptase polymerase chain reaction was used to detect HPeV RNA. We analyzed altogether 200 middle-ear fluid samples, 192 nasopharyngeal aspirates, 79 cerebrospinal fluid specimens and 50 serum and 5 fecal or fecal culture samples. Positive samples were typed by sequencing the VP1 region.
Seven (8%) of 85 children with suspected central nervous system infections were positive for HPeV. Of these, 4 (all in autumn 2012 and from children <3 months of age) were typed to be HPeV4, whereas 1 child had HPeV3. HPeV4 was detected from stool, serum and cerebrospinal fluid. The children with acute otitis media tested HPeV positive in 2.5% episodes. In the lower respiratory cases, HPeV was absent.
The findings reported in this study suggest that HPeV4 can cause sepsis-like disease in young infants and be present in cerebrospinal fluid. Furthermore, this report shows that HPeV findings in children with more severe symptoms occur also in Finland.