Enteroviruses (EV) are an important cause of neonatal disease including hepatitis, meningoencephalitis, and myocarditis that can lead to death or severe long-term sequelae. Less is known about severe neonatal infection caused by the parechoviruses (PeV) of which type 1 (PeV1) and type 2 (PeV2) were previously known as echovirus 22 and echovirus 23. They belong to the same family of Picornaviridae as the EV. Of the PeV, so far only PeV3 has been associated in 2 recent reports with severe neonatal infection including involvement of central nervous system.
We compared the clinical signs, diagnosis, laboratory data, cerebral imaging, and neurodevelopmental outcome of 11 neonates with PeV infection with 21 infants with EV infection treated in our hospital between 1994 and 2006. The diagnosis of EV infection or PeV infection was confirmed by a positive EV and/or PeV real time-polymerase chain reaction on blood, cerebrospinal fluid, (CSF) or stool or a viral culture of stool, nasopharyngeal swab, and/or CSF.
The 32 infants presented with sepsis-like illness and the most frequent signs were: fever, seizures, irritability, rash, and feeding problems. All patients received antibiotic treatment. Eleven of 21 infants infected with EV and 7 of 11 infants infected with PeV were full-term. Differentiation between the infants infected with EV and PeV on the basis of fever, irritability, rash, and seizures was not possible. Myocarditis was exclusively seen in 4 patients infected by EV. Eight of 11 patients with a PeV infection had meningoencephalitis of whom only 1 infant developed pleocytosis in the CSF. Serum C-reactive protein and CSF protein values were significantly higher in infants with EV infection than in those with PeV infection. Cerebral imaging of all infants with EV or PeV cerebral infection showed mild to severe white matter abnormalities. In 1 infant with EV infection and 3 infants with PeV infection, neurodevelopmental delay occurred. Mortality and long-term sequelae were mainly associated with myocarditis in the infants who were infected with EV (4 of 21).
It is not possible to distinguish neonatal PeV from EV infection on the basis of clinical signs. Neonates with PeV or EV infection present with sepsis-like illness and the most frequent signs are fever, seizures, irritability, rash, and feeding problems.
From the *Department of Neonatology, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands; and †Department of Virology, Eijkman Winkler Center for Microbiology, Infectious Diseases and Inflammation, University Medical Center, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Accepted for publication September 25, 2007.
Address for correspondence: M. Verboon-Maciolek, Department of Neonatology, University Medical Center, Lundlaan 6, 3584 EA Utrecht, The Netherlands. E-mail: M.Verboon-Maciolek@umcutrecht.nl.