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Health officials say a group of viruses common among young children is circulating and causing severe illness in some infants. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health advisory regarding parechovirus (PeV) last month and urged clinicians to be on the lookout for the virus. 

In a new interview from Mayo ClinicDr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a pediatric infectious diseases expert, said most children have been infected with parechovirus by the time they enter kindergarten. 

Parechovirus spreads through respiratory droplets and stool, according to Mayo Clinic. There is no antiviral or specific treatment for the illness. 

While the virus typically causes mild illness with fever, runny nose and cough, children under three months old are at risk of severe illness. 

For infants, infection with parechovirus can range from mild to severe, sepsis-like disease and central nervous system infection. 

"What we're seeing is babies who are being admitted to hospital because of fever, sepsis-like illness, and sometimes because of infection of the brain or lining around the brain — we call it meningitis or encephalitis," Rajapakse said.

The CDC advisory was issued after a 23 previously-healthy infants were hospitalized parechovirus in an apparent untick in cases in Tennessee

And while most children recover on their own, the illness can cause long-term issues, such as neurodevelopment complications. 

"If you have a baby, especially under 3 months of age, the most important thing you can do is try and avoid anyone who may be ill," Rajapakse urged parents. "That protects the baby from lots of different types of infections."

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