BY SHAUNDA GOEGEBUER
Riverside County – According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), from mid-August through Oct. 6, nearly 600 confirmed cases of a rare respiratory virus known as Enterovirus 68 (EV-D68) have been documented in 43 different states and the District of Columbia.
Some State Labs may also have confirmed cases, but they are not included in the CDC’s official count unless they are confirmed specifically by the CDC.
The CDC’s current confirmed cases started in the states of Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, and Missouri, and now include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
The virus appears to be rapidly making its way across the United States and could find its way to Riverside County before the end of October.
Enterovirus 68 was first documented and isolated in the State of California back in 1962. Until recently, no new major outbreaks have occurred. The virus starts out with symptoms similar to a common cold, including runny nose, coughing, sneezing, fever, body and muscle aches; but it can quickly escalate to wheezing and cause difficulty breathing in those infected.
Infants, children and teens are the most likely to contract the virus due to a lack of immunity to similar viruses. Children with no historical asthmatic indications are reportedly experiencing symptoms such as wheezing. However, children with a history of asthma are at a significantly higher risk for developing severe respiratory illness caused by the virus.
There is no cure for the illness, but over-the-counter medications may be helpful. Parents and caregivers should look for signs of wheezing, difficulty eating or speaking, or blueness around the lips; and should particularly be watchful with asthmatic children as symptoms can develop unexpectedly. Should severe symptoms develop, hospitalization may be necessary.
Since the illness is likely spread through coughing, sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces, healthy hygiene is encouraged – such as washing hands for at least 20 seconds – and avoid touching the face, especially the eyes, nose and mouth. Refrain from sharing drinks or eating utensils, and disinfect items frequently touched such as toys, door knobs, and light switches.
The CDC is continuing to collect information from states to better understand and assess the situation of EV-D68 and the respiratory illness caused by this virus.
For more information about the Enterovirus 68, visit http://www.cdc.gov.