Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Massachusetts confirmed its first case of Enterovirus D68

On September 11, I wrote an article concerning a rare viral health threat caused from an outbreak of Enterovirus D68. At that time, it presented itself in 12 Midwestern and Southeastern states and was spreading. Today, my state of Massachusetts confirmed its first case of Enterovirus D68.

From mid-August to September 23, 2014, 213 people in 30 states have been confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by Entrovirus-D68.

If your child presents symptoms, you need to see a doctor right away since a D68 infection can be a threat to your child’s life.

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. Since then, there have been a 100 or so cases reported. D68 is hard to identify; it may be the reason why the numbers are low. But since the latter part of August, 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.

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. They should be particularly 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. It would be a very serious situation if your child should acquire the D68 virus and a strain of the flu at the same time.