Maternal parechovirus A (PeV-A) shedding, serostatus, and the risk of central nervous system PeV-A infections in infants

J Clin Virol. 2021 Sep;142:104939. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2021.104939. Epub 2021 Aug 2.


Background: Parechovirus A (PeV-A) has emerged as a leading cause of infant central nervous system (CNS) infections. Risk factors associated with infant acquisition of PeV-A are not well understood.

Methods: We conducted prospective PeV-A/enterovirus (EV) CNS infection surveillance, enrolling 461 hospitalized infants <90 days old who underwent sepsis evaluations and lumbar puncture during 2011-2012. Infants were grouped by RT-PCR detection of PeV-A, EV, or neither virus (Neg) in CSF. We collected demographic/clinical data and tested specimens from all infants. For 427 mothers, we collected demographic/clinical data and evaluated PeV-A3 and EV shedding, and PeV-A3 neutralizing antibody for 147 mothers.

Results: PeV-A was detected in 40 infants (8.7%), 4 in 2011 and 36 in 2012. EV was detected in 35 infants (7.6%), 16 in 2011, and 19 in 2012. PeV-A infected infants presented with irritability, abdominal discomfort, fever, and tachycardia, plus both lymphopenia and absence of CSF pleocytosis which help differentiate PeV-A from EV CNS infection. PeV-A was detected in 9/427 maternal throat swabs; eight of their infants also had PeV-A CNS infection. Infants whose mothers had PeV-A3-positive throat swabs were more likely to be PeV-A3-positive than infants whose mothers had negative throat swabs (relative risk [RR], 13.4 [95% CI, 8.6 - 20.7]). Maternal PeV-A3 seropositivity decreased with increasing maternal age. Mothers of PeV-A-positive infants had lower median PeV-A3 neutralizing titers and were more likely seronegative.

Conclusions: Maternal viral shedding, serostatus and neutralization titers appear to be important factors in infant PeV-A3 CNS infections.

Keywords: CNS Infections; Human Parechovirus; Infants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System
  • Central Nervous System Infections*
  • Enterovirus Infections*
  • Enterovirus*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Parechovirus* / genetics
  • Picornaviridae Infections* / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies