Evolutionary analysis of human parechovirus type 3 and clinical outcomes of infection during the 2017-18 Australian epidemic
Human parechovirus type 3 (HPeV3) can cause severe sepsis-like illness in young infants and may be associated with long term neurodevelopmental delay later in childhood. We investigated the molecular epidemiology of HPeV infection in thirty three infants requiring hospitalization before, during and after the peak of the 2017/18 HPeV epidemic wave in Australia. During the peak of the epidemic, all cases were infected with an HPeV3, while before and after the peak, HPeV1 was the predominant type detected. The predominant HPeV3 was the recombinant HPeV3 also detected in the 2013/14 and 2015/16 Australian epidemics. Sepsis-like or meningitis-like symptoms were only reported in cases infected with the recombinant HPeV3. Phylogenetic analysis of the recombinant HPeV3 revealed that the virus continued to evolve, also between the Australian outbreaks, thus indicating continued circulation, despite not being detected and reported in Australia or elsewhere in between epidemic waves. The recombinant HPeV3 continued to show a remarkable stability in its capsid amino acid sequence, further strengthening our previous argument for development of a vaccine or immunotherapeutics to reduce the severity of HPeV3 outbreaks due to this virus.