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Spread of Enterovirus D68 Hits San Diego County

San Diego County CA– (CNC)Three San Diego County children were among the first four cases of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) respiratory infection confirmed in California this year, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency announced today. The three local children, along with a child visiting San Diego County, were hospitalized earlier this month for respiratory illness at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. The children ranged in age from 2 years to 13 years. They have all improved and are no longer in the hospital.

Additional samples from San Diego patients are currently being tested at the California Department of Public Health Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory.

The CDC reports that prior to the four cases reported in California, from mid-August to September 18, 2014, a total of 153 people from 18 states were confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by EV-D68. The 18 states are Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The cases of EV-D68 infection were confirmed by the CDC or state public health laboratories that notified CDC.

According to the CDC, more states will have confirmed cases of EV-D68 infection.”The primary reason for increases in cases is that several states are investigating clusters of people with severe respiratory illness, and specimens are still being tested for EV-D68. It can take a while to test specimens and obtain lab results. That’s because the testing is complex and slower, and can only be done by CDC and a small number of state public health laboratories. As the backlog of specimens is processed, the number of states and confirmed cases will likely increase. These increases will not necessarily reflect changes in real time, or mean that the situation is getting worse.”

“Some of the increase will be from new EV-D68 infections since people are more likely to get infected with enteroviruses in the summer and fall. We are currently in the middle of the enterovirus season. As investigations progress, we will have a better understanding of the trends for EV-D68 infections.” says the CDC report

“We may learn of more cases in San Diego, but overall county-wide respiratory illnesses have not increased significantly in the community,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “We are monitoring this closely with our local health care providers.”

“Rady Children’s began seeing a steady rise in the number of children coming to the hospital with respiratory conditions in mid-August, and the numbers continue to increase,” said Dr. John Bradley, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s. “However, for most children, EV-D68 is experienced as a common cold, so a trip to the emergency department is generally not necessary unless the child has difficulty breathing or an unusually high fever.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), EV-D68 has been identified as causing cases of severe respiratory illness across 16 states since mid-August. Most of the illnesses have occurred in young children, and many have reported a history of asthma.

It is estimated that 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year. While there are more than 100 types of enteroviruses that commonly cause respiratory illness, EV-D68 is a less common type which was first identified in California in 1962.

Most people infected with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms of the common cold. Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

“There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections other than management of symptoms, which is why it is important to take steps to protect yourself and others from respiratory infections such as enterovirus,” said Dr. Wooten.

There is little you can do to help protect yourself from respiratory illnesses beyond taking common-sense steps to reduce the risk.:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • 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.
  • Stay home if you feel don’t feel well.

Some enterovirus infections, however, can be serious and lead to respiratory illness requiring hospitalization and neurologic illnesses, such as aseptic meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become sick.

Most enterovirus infections in the United States occur seasonally during the summer and fall. EV-D68 infections are thought to occur less commonly than infections with other enteroviruses. For more information about EV-D68 and other enteroviruses visit the CDC website.