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Parents warned as baby dies and eight left in intensive care by heart inflammation from 'usually mild bug'
17 May 2023, 17:30 | Updated: 17 May 2023, 17:34
Parents have been issued with an urgent warning after eight babies were hospitalised with a heart condition caused by an "unusual" cluster of infections.
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Several babies in South Wales and south-west England have come down with severe myocarditis, which is an inflammation of the heart - after developing enterovirus.
Enterovirus is a relatively common virus among children and can cause a range of symptoms. Public Health Wales said it rarely affects the heart, and most babies and children recover completely.
But some 15 newborns, including ten in Wales and five in south-west England - have developed the severe condition after catching enterovirus since June 2022.
Several of the babies have also had sepsis because of the myocarditis, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.
Public Health Wales said it is investigating the infection cluster.
"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.
Only one case of enterovirus had been identified in Wales in the six years leading up 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,” WHO said.
WHO said the risk to general public health was "low".
There have been no new reports of severe myocarditis since March.
Parents Joann and Christian Edwards' baby Elijah died aged just 12 days after he caught enterovirus and developed enterovirus.
Doctors told them that the infection who killed them was so rare that no one had died from it in years.
Elijah, who was born healthy, was let out of hospital with his mother Joanna day after he was born.
Joann said: "The consultant said it was very likely he contracted it within 24 hours of being born. I had never heard of it before. But we still don't have any answers. It has been hard.
"With my daughter, if we didn't have her, I don't know how we would have survived it, to be honest. When you have another child, you have got to keep going for them."