More than a dozen children in New York have been diagnosed with EV- D68, a rare respiratory infection, the state Health Department said Friday. The enterovirus that had been making children sick across the United States has now reached the northeast side of the country.
“It is important that we follow common sense rules to prevent the spread of this virus, as we do for flu and other contagious illnesses” said Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. “Because there is no specific treatment or vaccination against this virus, our best defense is to prevent it by practicing proper hygiene.”
Cases have been confirmed in the Capital Region and Central New York. Specimens have been received from other regions for testing.
Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touchingobjects or surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, oreyes. There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections other than management of symptoms, and no specific anti-viral medications currently available for this purpose, which is why it is important to take steps to protect yourself and others from respiratory infections such as enterovirusincluding:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
Avoid touching your 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.
Use the same precautions you would use to prevent the spread of influenza.
These prevention steps are especially important for individuals or persons with family members who are infants, or who have chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems. Symptoms of enterovirus illness can include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing,and bodyaches. Because EV-D68 has not been commonly reported, the full spectrum of illness due to this type of enterovirus is not well known.
In addition to the confirmed cases, more samples from around the state are on their way to the New York State Department of Health’s (DOH) Wadsworth Laboratory for testing. Wadsworth Laboratory is the only laboratory in the state that can confirm EV-D68.
While there are more than 100 types of enteroviruses that commonly cause respiratory illness, EV-D68 is a less common type.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with health departmentsin several states to investigate suspected clusters of respiratory illness.DOH is sharing its testing results with CDC to assist it in monitoring the circulation of the virus nationally.
DOH is working with the CDC and partnering with local health departments and health care providers to monitor the spread of severe respiratory illnesses in New York and asking health care providers to report clusters or outbreaks of severe respiratory illnesses to their local health department or to DOH.
DOH will continue to work closely with the CDC, local health departments, and health care providers to monitor the circulation of the virus in the State and across the U.S. Additionally, DOH has issued a health alert with information and guidance regarding EV-D68 to health care providers across the state.
Enteroviruses are very common viruses; there are more than 100 types.
It is estimated that 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year.
Enteroviruses can cause respiratory illness, febrile rash, and neurologic illnesses, such as aseptic meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain).
Most infected people have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious.
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.
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) infections are thought to occur less commonly than infections with other enteroviruses.
EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962. Compared with other enteroviruses, EV-D68 has been rarely reported in the United States.