Third Grafton child falls victims to rare virus

IT STARTED with common teething symptoms: a red rash and a slight fever.

But 24 hours later, Sam Vasey's five-month-old daughter Georgia's temperature continued to rise despite being given Nurofen and Panadol, and she became lethargic and lost her appetite.

"Because she was teething I thought that's what it was at first, but the rash spread from head to toe," she said.

"Once she got sick it went downhill quickly."

A drive to the emergency ward at Grafton Base Hospital and a number of tests revealed Georgia had parechovirus, a little-known illness which in infants can lead to severe blood or neurological infections.

It is the third confirmed case of the little-known virus to come into the hospital in recent weeks.

The results of another two young children are still being sought, but Director of Medical Services for the Clarence Valley, Dr Abbey Perumpanani, said on Monday that all of the children were in a stable condition and doing well.

According to an article in The Daily Telegraph on November 27, hospitals across the state have reported a rising number of children under the age of one being taken to emergency wards with suspected symptoms including fever, rashes, diarrhoea and respiratory infection.

Parechoviruses usually cause no symptoms but when illness occurs it is most commonly a mild diarrhoeal illness or respiratory infection, but, particularly among babies under three months, infection with some strains can, rarely, lead to sepsis and meningitis or encephalitis.

Dr Perumpanani said there was no specific treatment, but most young children recovered after a few days of supportive treatment.

Ms Vasey said more than a week on her daughter was still recovering. Doctors have told the Junction Hill mum Georgia would be contagious for 5-6 weeks.

"She's a lot better, and getting there slowly," she said.

"The nurses said the best thing to do is to wash your hands frequently and disinfect the house."

Parechovirus is usually spread from person to person through contact with respiratory droplets, saliva or faeces from an infected person.

NSW Health advises people who are unwell with colds, flu-like illness or gastro illness should stay away from small babies.

"Please be careful as this has been the most worrying week of my life," Ms Vasey said. If your little one is sick with the symptoms take them to (the doctor) straight away."

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