Rob and Kelly Martin, of Mineola, and their children, Ava...

Rob and Kelly Martin, of Mineola, and their children, Ava and Jaxon. In July, Jaxon fell ill and spent more than a week in NYU Langone Hospital–Long Island. Doctors determined he had parechovirus. Credit: Courtesy of Kelly and Rob Martin

Jaxon Martin is a happy baby with sparkling eyes and an infectious giggle these days. But less than two months ago, he spent more than a week at NYU Langone Hospital–Long Island after contracting parechovirus, a common virus that can be dangerous for babies. Just 13 days old at the time, he spent part of the time in the hospital on a breathing tube.

“We had never heard" of parechovirus,” said Jaxon's mother, Kelly Martin, of Mineola. “Many of the people we told had no idea what it is. And we don’t know how he got it. We barely took him anywhere.”

Parechovirus is a common childhood pathogen or virus that can cause upper respiratory infections, fevers and rashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is known to circulate in the summer and the fall and can be spread through feces, saliva and respiratory droplets.

The CDC said most children are infected by the time they start kindergarten, and while severe illness is rare in older children, it can occur in infants, especially those younger than 3 months of age. The Martins are sharing Jaxon's experience in an effort to educate other parents and caregivers about the virus.

In Jaxon’s case, parechovirus led to a case of viral meningitis, an infection of the thin lining that covers the brain and spinal cord, and other complications.

On July 12, around the same time Jaxon was released from the hospital, the CDC issued a health advisory about parechovirus, saying that since May it had received reports from multiple states about infections in newborns and young infants. The agency encouraged clinicians to test for parechovirus in children who have symptoms including fever, sepsis-like syndrome or neurological illness such as seizures and meningitis without another known cause.

A 34-day-old baby in Connecticut died from parechovirus in June, according to published reports. And a CDC report highlighted a cluster of 23 previously healthy infants between the ages of 5 days and 3 months who were admitted to a Tennessee children’s hospital with parechovirus between April 12 and May 24. While 21 of those children recovered without complications, the report said one was being evaluated for possible hearing loss, and another experienced persistent seizures.

“Babies less than 28 days old are more susceptible to any type of virus,” said Dr. Chantal Bruno, pediatric critical care attending physician at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island, who helped care for Jaxon during his stay. “Their immune systems are not as robust, and it puts them at more risk of developing serious infection.”

Dr. Joseph Stambouly, chief of the pediatric intensive care unit at the hospital, said that when there is an infection in the lining of the brain, depending on how the virus goes through the rest of the patient’s organs, the result can be mild or potentially life-threatening.

“If it wasn’t for the timely and appropriate care he received over that first day or two, Jaxon would have been in a lot worse shape,” Stambouly said. “The parents did a wonderful job of picking up early that something was not right, and they sought out medical care right away.”

Kelly and Rob Martin, both 34, were home with Jaxon and their 2-year-old daughter Ava on July 1 when they noticed something wasn’t right with their son.

“He wasn’t eating, he wouldn’t take his bottle,” Rob Martin said. A few hours later, Jaxon had a fever. Knowing a fever in a child that young could be dangerous, they rushed him to the emergency room at NYU Langone-Long Island in Mineola.

Doctors did tests, including a spinal tap, and found Jaxon had viral meningitis. They estimated Jaxon would need to spend at least the next 48 hours in the hospital.

Kelly ran home quickly to pack a bag, only to receive a call from the hospital saying Jaxon was struggling to breathe and they had to intubate him. Their bright-faced little boy was now sedated and on a breathing tube in the pediatric intensive care unit.

“He looked like a ghost,” Kelly said. “Rob and I were completely broken.”

Bruno explained to them that the viral meningitis was impacting Jaxon’s central nervous system, which controls everything from breathing to heart rate and even digesting food.

“Because he had such a serious infection, he wasn’t able to adequately breathe, maintain his blood pressure or heart rate on his own,” Bruno said.

While doctors and nurses adjusted Jaxon’s medicines in an effort to stabilize him, they encouraged the Martins to speak to him, even though he was sedated.

“They said he could hear us, so we would talk to him, touch his hand, pray over him,” Kelly said.

About six days later, they walked into his room to a heartening sight, a nurse holding Jaxon. His breathing tube had been removed and he was awake.

“That was the first time I had tears of joy,” Kelly said. “He was very tired, but you could see that sparkle in his eye. He was so happy to see us.”

The CDC said there is currently no "systematic surveillance" for parechovirus in the United States, so it's unclear how many children are infected each year. Stambouly pointed out that viral screening panels — used to test patients for a series of viruses — now include parechovirus. The CDC said that could mean there is a higher number of diagnoses.

The Martins said they were grateful for the care Jaxon received and hope their story encourages other parents to follow their gut instinct if they think something is wrong with their child.

Jaxon had to undergo physical therapy to counter the impact of being in a hospital bed for 10 days, but is back home and back on track developmentally, the Martins said. After being removed from the breathing tube, he aspirated while taking a bottle, so he eats thickened oatmeal, a meal he appears to enjoy.

He will continue to be evaluated for any long-term issues, but his current prognosis is good, doctors said.

“He is just the happiest baby,” Kelly said. “We look at him and we see the boy that we took home.”

Jaxon Martin is a happy baby with sparkling eyes and an infectious giggle these days. But less than two months ago, he spent more than a week at NYU Langone Hospital–Long Island after contracting parechovirus, a common virus that can be dangerous for babies. Just 13 days old at the time, he spent part of the time in the hospital on a breathing tube.

“We had never heard" of parechovirus,” said Jaxon's mother, Kelly Martin, of Mineola. “Many of the people we told had no idea what it is. And we don’t know how he got it. We barely took him anywhere.”

Parechovirus is a common childhood pathogen or virus that can cause upper respiratory infections, fevers and rashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is known to circulate in the summer and the fall and can be spread through feces, saliva and respiratory droplets.

The CDC said most children are infected by the time they start kindergarten, and while severe illness is rare in older children, it can occur in infants, especially those younger than 3 months of age. The Martins are sharing Jaxon's experience in an effort to educate other parents and caregivers about the virus.

WHAT TO KNOW

  • A 13-day-old baby from Mineola had to be hospitalized after contracting parechovirus, a common virus that can be especially dangerous if contracted by newborns and young infants.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention put out a health advisory about parechovirus after numerous reports of infections in young infants and newborns.
  • Health experts urged parents to seek medical care if their infant appears ill, either through their pediatrician or if the symptoms are serious enough to seek emergency care. 

In Jaxon’s case, parechovirus led to a case of viral meningitis, an infection of the thin lining that covers the brain and spinal cord, and other complications.

On July 12, around the same time Jaxon was released from the hospital, the CDC issued a health advisory about parechovirus, saying that since May it had received reports from multiple states about infections in newborns and young infants. The agency encouraged clinicians to test for parechovirus in children who have symptoms including fever, sepsis-like syndrome or neurological illness such as seizures and meningitis without another known cause.

A 34-day-old baby in Connecticut died from parechovirus in June, according to published reports. And a CDC report highlighted a cluster of 23 previously healthy infants between the ages of 5 days and 3 months who were admitted to a Tennessee children’s hospital with parechovirus between April 12 and May 24. While 21 of those children recovered without complications, the report said one was being evaluated for possible hearing loss, and another experienced persistent seizures.

“Babies less than 28 days old are more susceptible to any type of virus,” said Dr. Chantal Bruno, pediatric critical care attending physician at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island, who helped care for Jaxon during his stay. “Their immune systems are not as robust, and it puts them at more risk of developing serious infection.”

Dr. Joseph Stambouly, chief of the pediatric intensive care unit at the hospital, said that when there is an infection in the lining of the brain, depending on how the virus goes through the rest of the patient’s organs, the result can be mild or potentially life-threatening.

“If it wasn’t for the timely and appropriate care he received over that first day or two, Jaxon would have been in a lot worse shape,” Stambouly said. “The parents did a wonderful job of picking up early that something was not right, and they sought out medical care right away.”

Jaxon Martin gets a kiss from his sister Ava at...

Jaxon Martin gets a kiss from his sister Ava at their Mineola home on June 30. Credit: Courtesy of Kelly and Rob Martin

Kelly and Rob Martin, both 34, were home with Jaxon and their 2-year-old daughter Ava on July 1 when they noticed something wasn’t right with their son.

“He wasn’t eating, he wouldn’t take his bottle,” Rob Martin said. A few hours later, Jaxon had a fever. Knowing a fever in a child that young could be dangerous, they rushed him to the emergency room at NYU Langone-Long Island in Mineola.

Doctors did tests, including a spinal tap, and found Jaxon had viral meningitis. They estimated Jaxon would need to spend at least the next 48 hours in the hospital.

Kelly ran home quickly to pack a bag, only to receive a call from the hospital saying Jaxon was struggling to breathe and they had to intubate him. Their bright-faced little boy was now sedated and on a breathing tube in the pediatric intensive care unit.

“He looked like a ghost,” Kelly said. “Rob and I were completely broken.”

Bruno explained to them that the viral meningitis was impacting Jaxon’s central nervous system, which controls everything from breathing to heart rate and even digesting food.

“Because he had such a serious infection, he wasn’t able to adequately breathe, maintain his blood pressure or heart rate on his own,” Bruno said.

While doctors and nurses adjusted Jaxon’s medicines in an effort to stabilize him, they encouraged the Martins to speak to him, even though he was sedated.

“They said he could hear us, so we would talk to him, touch his hand, pray over him,” Kelly said.

About six days later, they walked into his room to a heartening sight, a nurse holding Jaxon. His breathing tube had been removed and he was awake.

“That was the first time I had tears of joy,” Kelly said. “He was very tired, but you could see that sparkle in his eye. He was so happy to see us.”

The CDC said there is currently no "systematic surveillance" for parechovirus in the United States, so it's unclear how many children are infected each year. Stambouly pointed out that viral screening panels — used to test patients for a series of viruses — now include parechovirus. The CDC said that could mean there is a higher number of diagnoses.

The Martins said they were grateful for the care Jaxon received and hope their story encourages other parents to follow their gut instinct if they think something is wrong with their child.

Jaxon had to undergo physical therapy to counter the impact of being in a hospital bed for 10 days, but is back home and back on track developmentally, the Martins said. After being removed from the breathing tube, he aspirated while taking a bottle, so he eats thickened oatmeal, a meal he appears to enjoy.

He will continue to be evaluated for any long-term issues, but his current prognosis is good, doctors said.

“He is just the happiest baby,” Kelly said. “We look at him and we see the boy that we took home.”

Latest videos