A severe respiratory illness affecting children in the Midwest may be showing up in the Seattle area, say local health officials.
Officials are working with Seattle Children’s to investigate a cluster of patients with severe respiratory illness who tested positive for a possible enterovirus infection, according to a news release issued Thursday by Public Health – Seattle & King County.
According to news reports, several states in the Midwest and Southeast have reported high numbers of hospitalizations of children, from infants to teenagers, suffering from an enterovirus strain called EV-D68. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that from Aug. 21 to Sept 10, a total of 84 people in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri had confirmed cases of EV-D68. But CNN reports that the enterovirus has been detected in more than 10 states.
The Associated Press reported that nearly 500 children have been treated at one hospital alone — Children’s Mercy in Kansas City, Missouri — and some required intensive care, according to authorities.
“If EV-D68 does appear locally, large numbers of children could develop respiratory infections in a short time period, as the virus spreads similarly to the common cold. With most enterovirus infections, the vast majority of children have a mild illness that does not require medical attention. However, parents of children with asthma should be aware that their children appear to be more susceptible to serious illness,” the news release said. “EV-D68 has been reported to cause mild to severe respiratory illness (runny nose, cough, difficulty breathing) with and without fever. A minority of people may have more serious infections, particularly children with pre-existing asthma.
Public Health – Seattle & King County said that anyone who has difficulty breathing or who appears seriously ill should be evaluated quickly by a healthcare provider. There is no specific treatment for enterovirus.
To decrease the risk for enterovirus infections, Public Health – Seattle & King County suggests:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds (alcohol hand gel is not as good as hand washing for enteroviruses).
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid contact with ill people.
- Do not go to day care, school or work while ill.
- 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.
- Children and adults with asthma should be sure to have their asthma symptoms under control and see a health care provider if they develop a respiratory infection and their asthma worsens.