More enterovirus D68 cases are confirmed by the CDC

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirmed more cases of enterovirus (EV-D68) in Connecticut and nationwide, and it expects more cases will be confirmed.

In addition, it is investigating a possible link between the virus and nine children in Colorado suffering from an acute neurologic illness characterized by limb weakness and spinal cord abnormalities.

As of Monday, Sept. 29, the CDC or state public health labs had confirmed a total of 443 people in 40 states with the respiratory illness (EV-D68) that is similar to the flu. All cases but one have been among children, many of whom had a history of asthma or wheezing. There are at least 10 confirmed cases in Connecticut.

So far, no deaths have been attributed to the enterovirus infection.

The CDC says the number of confirmed cases is certainly much lower than the actual number of cases of enterovirus D68. The virus produces mild symptoms, similar to a bad cold, in most people infected.

It is prioritizing testing of specimens from children with severe respiratory illness.

Health advisory

The CDC also released a health advisory on Friday, Sept. 26, alerting health care workers that it is working with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Children’s Hospital Colorado to investigate a “cluster” of nine children with an unknown neurologic illness; six of those children have tested positive for enterovirus, with four typed as EV-D68 and the other two pending typing results, according to the CDC.

The CDC health advisory states in part, “The United States is currently experiencing a nationwide outbreak of EV-D68 associated with severe respiratory disease. The possible linkage of this cluster of neurologic disease to this large EV-D68 outbreak is part of the current investigation. CDC is seeking information about other similar neurologic illnesses in all states, especially cases clustered in time and place.”

Enterovirus D68

Mild symptoms of enterovirus D68 may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.

Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.

In general, infants, children and teens are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses. Those with a history of respiratory difficulties such as asthma are more at risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection.

The virus spreads through contact with respiratory secretions — saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum — usually transmitted by coughing, sneezing, or touching contaminated surfaces.

The best way to prevent infection by enterovirus is to:

•Wash hands often.

•Avoid touching one’s face, especially with unwashed hands.

•Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing food, drinks, or utensils with people who are sick.

•Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.

Treatment for enterovirus is the same as for a cold or the flu: Stay hydrated, get plenty of rest, treat with fever and/or pain reducers as needed, and stay home until fully recovered.

The CDC urges those with asthma to update and follow their asthma action plan, to take medications as prescribed, and to be sure to keep relief medications on hand. Call a doctor right away if there are new or worsening symptoms that do not go away.