Samples taken from 4 patients who have recently died tested positive for Enterovirus D68. Among those who tested positive was 10-year-old Emily Otrando.
It remains unclear whether or not Enterovirus D68 played a role in their deaths and it is possible that this virus, which is very common in the late summer and early fall, had nothing do to with them.
However, doctors remain alert due to how prevalent the virus has been this year in comparison to previous years.
According to CNN, the virus seems to be affecting children with a history of breathing problems or asthma. In fact, those at the highest risk for contracting the infection are infants, children, and teenagers.
Knowing the Symptoms
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states that the symptoms of Enterovirus D68 are those of a mild to severe respiratory illness. Those who have contracted the infection may show symptoms such as, fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.
More severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing. Due to the increasing number of cases of Enterovirus D68 in the U.S. this year, the CDC is investing more time and energy in understanding the infections. On their website they state that they are:
- continuing to collect information from states and assess the situation to better understand
- EV-D68 and the illness caused by this virus and
- how widespread EV-D68 infections may be within each state and the populations affected.
- helping states with diagnostic and molecular typing for EV-D68.
- working with state and local health departments and clinical and state laboratories to
- enhance their capacity to identify and investigate outbreaks, and
- perform diagnostic and molecular typing tests to improve detection of enteroviruses and enhance surveillance.
- developing and validating a diagnostic test to detect EV-D68 in specimens. CDC will explore options for providing test kits and protocols to state public health labs.
- providing information to healthcare professionals, policymakers, general public, and partners in numerous formats, including Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports (MMWRs), health alerts, websites, social media, podcasts, infographics, and presentations.
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In the mean time, the CDC insists that everyone, especially parents of small children, follow steps to prevent their children from getting and spreading EV-D68. As of now there are no vaccines for preventing EV-D68, so it is important to take preventative measures when dealing with this infection. The infection can prevented by following these steps:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
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by Will Dabbs, MD / Oct 3, 2014