HEALTH ALERT! – Enterovirus Warning
Delaware County Senior Medical Advisor warns of enterovirus.
Hundreds of children across the country have been hospitalized by a respiratory illness identified as Enterovirus 68 (EV-D68), a virus that has made headlines over the past several weeks.
Delaware County Council and the Department of Intercommunity Health want to provide information to residents regarding the signs and symptoms of EV-D68 with the goal of increased vigilance and a focus on preventing the rapid spread of this disease should it become a local concern.
Information is being made available through the county website, at www.co.delaware.pa.us, the school community and municipal health officers. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (www.cdc.gov) provides information and updates regarding outbreaks on their websites.
Dr. George Avetian, Delaware County Senior Medical Advisor, said EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962. It has been reported to cause symptoms ranging from mild to severe respiratory illness. According to the CDC, EV-D68 is similar to the rhinovirus that causes the common cold. The primary difference is that infection with EV-D68 has the potential to lead to more severe respiratory symptoms. Typical symptoms include fever, cough, runny nose and sore throat. Individuals (especially children) with underlying respiratory problems or compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for hospitalization, pneumonia and other complications.
“This outbreak of EV-D68 is not the first to cause concern in the United States,” Dr. Avetian said. “As a matter of fact in September 2009 we had clusters of this virus in Pennsylvania. Studies on EV-D68 are limited, and so is knowledge about how the virus spreads.”
The virus has been isolated in respiratory secretions such as saliva, nasal mucus, and sputum. Like influenza, the virus most likely spreads from person to person when an infected individual coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces. With this in mind the following measures are strongly encouraged:
- Thorough washing of your hands frequently with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers. Hand sanitizers are not effective against this virus.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups and utensils with people who are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.
- Stay home from work or school if you are sick.
As of Thursday, 12 states reported clusters: Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Utah. Four of those states — Iowa, Missouri, Illinois and Colorado — have confirmed cases.
It is likely that many more states will be included.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is working with state health departments and clinical and state laboratories to enhance their capacity to identify and investigate outbreaks, as well as perform diagnostic and molecular typing tests to improve detection of enteroviruses and enhance surveillance.
“Anyone, especially children with asthma, who begin wheezing along with cold symptoms, should immediately seek medical attention,” Dr. Avetian cautioned.