ObjectivesEnteroviruses (EV) and human parechoviruses (HPeV) infections are increasingly indentified in neonates and young children with sepsis, meningitis and encephalitis. We investigated EV and HPeV viral loads in plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) among those presenting with sepsis or central nervous system (CNS) disease to gain understanding of the nature of these infections. MethodsDetections frequencies and viral loads of EV and HPeV RNA were compared in plasma and CSF obtained from infected children originally identified on sepsis or CNS screening. ResultsTwo distinct infection profiles were identified; 11 subjects with CNS disease, showed higher or similar viral loads in CSF than in plasma (median plasma:CSF ratio 0.5), whereas 14 children with sepsis showed low or undetectable viral loads in CSF and high viral loads in plasma (mean ratio 5,700). HPeV type 3 and one EV serotype (coxsackievirus B2) were primarily associated with the latter presentation. ConclusionsSimple detection of EV or HPeV RNA in CSF is not predictive of CNS disease, especially in the absence of clinical markers (i.e. pleocytosis). Screening of plasma can identify EV and HPeV RNA in a substantial proportion of sepsis cases, some of which will be missed if CSF samples alone are screened.