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 Sept. 18, 2014.
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.
“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.”
Dr. John Bradley, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Rady Children’s said “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. 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 million 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 that 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.
You can help protect yourself from respiratory illnesses by following these steps:
1) Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
2) Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
3) Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
4) Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
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: https://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/EV-D68.html