Kelly and Rob Martin had never heard of parechovirus until their 13-day-old baby, Jaxon, needed around-the-clock care for it in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island.
“We knew something was off. He was wheezing. He seemed like he was in pain, and it was troublesome. It wasn’t normal,” Rob tells TODAY.
As soon as Jaxon developed a fever, the Martins rushed him to NYU Langone’s Long Island hospital where tests revealed he had parechovirus meningoencephalitis, swelling of the brain or its lining caused by the parechovirus.
In July, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health alert that parechovirus, a common childhood virus, was circulating throughout the country. In older children, it often leads to cold-like symptoms, but in newborns, it can be severe.
In Jaxon’s case, his condition worsened shortly after his arrival, but around-the-clock care led to recovery.
“He required a breathing tube to help him breathe. He required medication to help bring up his blood pressure to support his other organ functions,” said Chantal D. Bruno, DO, pediatric critical care attending physician at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island. “Once he was at a point where his body was starting to fight off a good amount of that virus, he started to improve relatively rapidly.”
“Minutes or hours make a difference,” says Joseph J. Stambouly, MD, chief of pediatric critical care medicine at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island. “If you look at Jaxon’s course, it was a matter of hours after presenting, less than 12 hours, that he took a dramatic turn for the worse. If his parents would have waited those 12 hours to ride it out, it could have been a much different story.”
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