By Horatio Green
A rare viral health threat has presented itself in 12 Midwestern and Southeastern states and is spreading. The threat comes from an outbreak of Enterovirus D68.
Enteroviruses are common. Enteroviruses and rhinoviruses are the leading cause of respiratory infections, particularly the common cold. There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses causing about 10 to 15 million infections in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, this particular strain, D68 is rare.It was first identified in California in 1962 D68 is hard to identify; it may be the reason why the numbers are low. , D68 infections have quickly spread with an unusually high number of hospitalizations leading the CDC to proclaim that it may be “just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases,” and therefore a nationwide health concern.
Since August 18, Children’s Hospital Colorado reported treating more than 900 children; 86 were admitted. The hospital has restricted visiting privileges of children under 12.
The Missouri Department of Health reported that in August Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City treated more than 300 children; 45 were admitted to their Intensive Care Unit. By September 2, the number of children treated had risen to 450.
By the end of August and into early September, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, reported an increase in respiratory illnesses, some are suspected to be D68 infections.
As of Tuesday, September 02, 2014, the Blessing Hospital in Quincy, Ill., restricted visiting privileges of children under 12 because of a virus suspected to be D68 that has affected more than 70 children.
Children predisposed to asthma and very young children are the most susceptible. When a child appears to have a bad cold, a parent should pay attention and be aware of labored breathing, wheezing, and uncontrollable coughing because these are D68’s primary symptoms.
Moreover, there is no specific vaccine or treatment available to prevent or treat D68 infections. The CDC says you can reduce your risk by following these few simple steps:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who may be infected.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home when feeling sick and obtain consultation from your health care provider.
It’s also advisable to get a flu shot to protect your family, children, and yourself from flu viruses.
If your child presents symptoms, you need to see a doctor right away since an D68 infection can be a threat to your child’s life.
Copyright © 2014 Horatio Green