The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed the presence of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in Spokane County.
The CDC testing confirmed that two children hospitalized in September had respiratory illness associated with EV-D68.The children were between the ages of 0 and 10 years old and both were discharged.
"We are not surprised to find that EV-D68 caused some illnesses in Spokane given the widespread nature of this virus in other parts of the country,” said Dr. Joel McCullough, health officer for Spokane Regional Health District. “As fall progresses, and as fewer hospitalizations are reported to us, we remain hopeful that this strain of virus is on the decline in our community.”
Over the last several months, the United States experienced a nationwide outbreak of EV-D68 associated with severe respiratory illness. From mid-August to Oct. 24, 2014, CDC, along with some state public health laboratories, confirmed a total of 998 people in 47 states and the District of Columbia with respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.
In late September and early October, Spokane saw an increase in hospitalizations for respiratory illness -- at its peak, 32 individuals, with an average age of 4.5 years old, had been hospitalized. Further enterovirus testing by CDC was requested for 24 of those. Several negative test results were returned by CDC in the days prior to the two positive confirmations. It is possible that more results—both positive and negative -- will be confirmed in the coming days.
Although CDC has received informal reports that some hospitals and states are seeing signs of decreasing EV-D68 infections, SRHD will continue to work with local providers in identifying individuals who meet criteria for further enterovirus testing. Further testing is only of epidemiological purpose, helping to further characterize the pattern of illness associated with this virus. Confirmation of EV-D68 does not change the clinical management of patients—treatment for enteroviruses, and specifically EV-D68, is supportive (fluids, symptom relief, sometimes breathing treatments or supplemental oxygen).
Enterovirus infections generally do not pose a great risk to the community. Most individuals who catch an enterovirus may experience symptoms similar to the common cold including sneezing, a runny nose and a cough. With EV-D68, some people may have difficulty breathing and/or develop a rash. This strain of virus is sometimes accompanied by a fever or wheezing. EV-D68 can rarely cause neurologic illness.
Children with asthma or a history of breathing problems are particularly susceptible to severe symptoms. Parents should seek medical attention immediately for children who are having any breathing difficulty (wheezing, difficulty speaking or eating, belly pulling in with breaths, blueness around the lips).
“It’s important for families to make sure their child’s asthma symptoms are under control, and to see a health care provider if he or she develops a respiratory illness that unexpectedly worsens asthma symptoms,” reiterated Dr. McCullough.
For mild respiratory illness, parents can help relieve symptoms by giving over-the-counter medications for pain and fever.
There is no vaccine for enterovirus infections. To decrease the risk for enterovirus infections:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (alcohol hand gel is not as good as hand washing for enteroviruses)
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid contact with ill people
- Do not go to day care, school or work while ill
- Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
- Children and adults with asthma should be sure to have their asthma symptoms under control and see a health care provider if they develop a respiratory infection and their asthma worsens
Although influenza virus was not detected in these children, flu season is just around the corner and influenza is the only viral cause of severe respiratory infections that is preventable through vaccination. Influenza is a cause of widespread respiratory infections each year, and is especially serious in children and adults with underlying asthma and other lung diseases and chronic medical conditions.
More information is also available at www.srhd.org.