Enterovirus D68 has been confirmed to be circulating and causing respiratory illness in Okla-homa, according to a press release from the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
The CDC reported that from mid-August to Sept. 30, 472 people in 41 states and the District of Columbia were confirmed to have a respiratory illness caused by EV-D68, including Oklahoma, where seven of 24 specimens submitted from state hospitals and laboratories tested positive for the virus.
Enteroviruses are a common cause of respiratory illness but EV-D68 is relatively rare to the U.S.
Samples collected from four patients who recently died have tested positive for enterovirus D68, according to the Centers for Disease Control on Oct. 1.
“EV-D68 infection looks very similar to the common cold with most persons showing symptoms of cough, runny nose, body aches, and possibly a fever.
“However, in some children the illness can rapidly progress to something more serious where the child has wheezing, difficulty breathing, and difficulty getting enough oxygen into their lungs.”
State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley said children with asthma and children younger than 5-years-old seem to be at the greatest risk.
She said if children develop wheezing or symptoms of asthma, medical care should be sought right away.
“If a child is seen having such difficulty in breathing that a bluish tint starts to show up on their skin or their lips … dial 911,” she said. Bradley said for those with no prior immunity to enterovirus D68, it can be very contagious.
“The virus is thought to spread through droplets and discharges from the nose and the throat, and may also be spread through an infected person’s stool.”
Bradley said this strain of virus is particularly resistant to some commonly used alcohol-based antibacterial cleansers.
She said the best way to combat the spread of viruses is through simple hand washing.
Mary McCoy, Child Devel-opment Center and Lab School director, said great care is being taken to keep OCCC’s littlest students healthy.
“We’re washing our hands and we’re washing the little hands,” she said.
McCoy said the center makes every effort to surpass standards for the health and safety of children in their care.
Per their accreditation requirements, she said, shoes are not allowed to be worn inside rooms where infants and toddlers are cared for.
McCoy said this policy has now been expanded to cover any room where children are cared for.
Bradley said while children are most prone to complications from EV-D68, adults should take precautions to prevent spreading illness as well.
“If you have a fever and you have sudden onset of cough, and you feel that it’s due to an infection and not allergies then it is wise to stay home … until at least 24 hours have passed since the fever’s subsided,” she said.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as toys, doorknobs and light switches.
- Stay home when sick.
There are no specific treatments or vaccines to prevent EV-D68 infections but the CDC recommends these steps to protect oneself against respiratory illness;
For more information, visit www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/outbreaks/EV-D68-states