It believes the “risk to public health is low”, but warns about “asymptomatic transport and spread of infectious virus”.
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday reported an “unusual increase” in cases of severe myocarditis in 15 infants linked to enterovirus infection in the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.
WHO reported that, between June 2022 and March 2023, a total of 15 newborns and young infants presented a picture consistent with neonatal sepsis in Wales and the south-west of England. In nine cases enterovirus polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing “confirmed the presence of Coxsackie B3 or Coxsackie B4.”
As of April 20, 2023, three patients had been hospitalized, four patients were being treated as outpatients, and two had died. Although enterovirus infections are common in infants, “the increase in myocarditis in newborns and infants associated with enterovirus infection is unusual,” WHO said in a statement.
Eight cases were treated in intensive care, and one child died before being transferred to tertiary care. According to WHO, more details are pending “on the remaining six cases identified”. Myocarditis was a common feature in affected infants.
The maximum incidence of cases was in November 2022, with five cases, including sporadic cases of infants with myocarditis detected in other months. Regarding the treatment of eight children who received intensive care, they received intubation, ventilation and circulatory support.
WHO, on the other hand, considers that “the risk to public health is low”, but warns about “asymptomatic transport and spread of infectious virus”, as it is characteristic of enterovirus infections. For this reason, the Institute of Health “does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions” with the United Kingdom in view of the health data on enterovirus infection.
Myocarditis is inflammation of the heart muscle or myocardium. The most common cause of myocarditis is a viral infection, such as an enterovirus, but it can also be caused by a bacterial infection, a reaction to a drug, or an autoimmune disease.
Symptoms of myocarditis include sharp and persistent chest pain, shortness of breath, and palpitations, which means a fast or pounding heartbeat.