At Shawnee Mission Health, we understand how many of our expectant and new parents are concerned about the recent reports of parechovirus. Having a baby is one of the most transformative times in a person’s life, full of many new worries for the health of your family. We hope the information below will help you understand what the parechovirus is, what it means for our community and steps you can take to help protect your family from any virus.
The Kansas City Situation
Fourteen infants in the Kansas City area have been identified with parechovirus (HPeV3) infections, a virus commonly found in the community. In fact, 95 percent of the population has evidence of having this virus by the age of 5. While 14 cases have been identified, a small number of those infants were born at Shawnee Mission Medical Center (SMMC).
As a community leader in patient safety and quality care, we proactively reached out to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to engage them in a community investigation. Partly due to these efforts, the health departments in both Kansas and Missouri are now investigating all reported cases of parechovirus in the Kansas City area. No common factors have been identified that link the infections to any one hospital or location.
What Is Parechovirus?
Human parechovirus is a type of virus that commonly causes infections during early childhood. Some types of human parechoviruses, particularly HPeV1, tend to circulate throughout the year, while other types, such as HPeV3 – which is what we’re seeing in the Kansas City area – more commonly cause infections during late spring and summer months. Most people who get infected do not become sick or have only mild symptoms.
Symptoms of parechovirus range from mild fever, rash, respiratory or gastrointestinal symptoms, to serious conditions including meningitis. Infants and people with weakened immune systems have a greater chance of developing complications. If your child shows signs of illness, talk with your pediatrician.
How Is It Spread?
The virus is spread through close contact with an infected person and touching surfaces with the virus on them.
How We Are Protecting Patients
At SMMC, all health care workers use precautions whether a patient is known to have an infection or not. Hand washing is the single most important step one can take to prevent the spread of germs. That is why you will always see our staff washing their hands, or using the alcohol rub, every time they enter the patient’s room, as well as before and after caring for baby.
We also evaluate our associates to ensure no one show signs of illness before caring for a patient, always take precautions to sanitize patient care areas after any medical interaction, and provide a thorough room cleaning each day.
Your hospital visitors also play a very important role in controlling the spread of infection.
- They should always wash their hands before and after any contact with you or your baby.
- Visitors should be free of colds or flu symptoms, diarrhea and skin infections and have a temperature less than 99°F.
- Children should be accompanied by an adult at all times. Also, to prevent further spread of infection, do not place children, food or toys on the floor in the hospital setting.
How You Can Prevent the Spread of Viruses
While babies do receive antibodies from their mother through the birth process and breastmilk, their immunities are still very low for the first few months of life. It’s important that your family always takes precaution to prevent the spread of any illness.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before and after any contact with your baby.
- Clean the environment after diaper changes.
- If your child has older siblings in the house, especially those under age 5, it’s very important to regularly clean toys and keep the older siblings’ hands and mouths away from baby.
- Always avoid close contact with people who are sick.
If you are planning to deliver or have had a newborn at SMMC and would like to talk with a nurse manager about your concerns, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your contact information, and we will be happy to address your concerns directly.