Urgent warning to parents as baby dies & eight left in intensive care due to ‘usually mild bug’ | The Sun

ONE baby has died and eight have been admitted to hospital after a typically mild virus triggered a 'unusual' cluster of infections.

A number of very young babies in South Wales and the southwest of England have developed with severe myocarditis – an inflammation of the heart – after contracting enterovirus.

This is a common infection of childhood which can cause a range of symptoms. 

According to Public Health Wales, it rarely affects the heart, with most babies and children recovering completely. 

But in rare cases with very young babies, enterovirus can cause severe illness in the first few weeks of life.  

Since June 2022, a total of 15 newborns – 10 in Wales and five in southwest England – have been struck down with severe myocarditis.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) yesterday issued an alert on the spike in cases, which occurred in an unusually short space of time. “The reported incident represents an increase in both the number and severity of enterovirus infections in infants under the age of one month,” the WHO said, adding that only one case was identified in Wales in the six years prior to 2022. 

“Although enterovirus infections are common in neonates and young infants, the reported increase in myocarditis with severe outcomes in neonates and infants associated with enterovirus infection is unusual,” the agency said. 

The 15 babies affected were diagnosed with sepsis as a symptom of myocarditis, the WHO said.

Public Health Wales said earlier this month that it was investigating the cluster of infections.

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But it was quick to reassure parents that, despite the increase cases, this is still an extremely rare occurrence. 

Meanwhile, WHO said the risk to public health is 'low'.

But it noted enterovirus infections aren't among the diseases WHO members have to flag, so a similar pattern may have gone undiagnosed or unreported elsewhere.

When baby Elijah Edwards passed away over a year ago – in March 2022 – his parents were initially told that a rare condition was the cause, Wales Online reported.

But his death is now being looked at as part of a cluster of enterovirus cases resulting in severe myocarditis.

Healthy when he was first sent home from hospital, Elijah became lethargic and severely constipated, leading his parents to take back into hospital days later.

He was first diagnosed with sepsis, then bronchiolitis.

After being admitted to the University Hospital of Wales (UHW) in Cardiff, he was diagnosed with enterovirus – a bug similar to the common cold that can attack the heart in young babies.

He died at Bristol Children's Hospital on 9 March.

His mum Joann told the BBC that the paediatric doctor at UHW told her Elijah's chances of getting enterovirus in the UK was "one in hundreds of thousands" and that his death was down to an "unlucky situation".

Elijah's death wasn't included in the official tally Public Health Wales shared with the WHO.

But Cwm Taf Morgannwg Health Board is probing Elijah's death.

What are the symptoms of enterovirus?

Enteroviruses are a group of viruses that cause a number of infectious illnesses which are usually mild. 

Mild symptoms of enterovirus infection may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, skin rash, mouth blisters, and body and muscle aches, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In rare cases, enteroviruses can sometimes cause severe illnesses.

But most people do recover completely.

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According to the Department of Health and Social Care, enteroviruses are most commonly spread by coming into contact with the saliva or mucus of an infected person, or their faeces.

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