Health departments provide advice on preventing the spread of respiratory illness known as Enterovirus D68
As you may be aware from recent media coverage, several states in the Midwest reported clusters of a respiratory illness known as Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) affecting children and others over the last few weeks; more recently, cases of EV-D68 have been confirmed in New York.
The North Colonie Central School District is providing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the New York State Department of Health (DOH) to help parents and community members become better informed about the illness and to help prevent the spread of the illness.
What is EV-D68 and how many cases have been confirmed?
EV-D68 is one of more than 100 types of enteroviruses that cause 10 to 15 million infections annually in the United States, though EV-D68 is less common than other types. Between mid-August and September 12, 2014, there have been a total of 97 cases of EV-D68 illness confirmed by the CDC; additional cases have been confirmed in state-based laboratories. The virus can cause severe respiratory illness in children and others. Children with asthma seem to be especially susceptible.
Are there any confirmed cases in New York?
Yes. As of September 12, 2014, more than a dozen cases of EV-D68 were confirmed in the Capital Region and central New York by the DOH’s Wadsworth Laboratory and more samples are being tested.
Cases also have been confirmed by the CDC in Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri. Six additional states (Ohio, Oklahoma, Michigan, Georgia, Washington and Utah) are investigating clusters of severe respiratory illness and some are sending samples to the CDC for testing.
The New York State Department of Health and the CDC will continue to monitor the spread of the illness and issue updated reports. See http://www.health.ny.gov/ and http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/EV-D68.html?s_cid=cdc_homepage_whatsnew_001 for details.
Who can get infected with enteroviruses?
Anyone is susceptible to becoming infected with enteroviruses. However, infants, children and teens are more likely to become ill because they have yet to build up immunity to such viruses. In some states, children with asthma seem to be at higher risk for developing severe symptoms, as do people with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems.
What are the symptoms of EV-D68?
The symptoms of mild cases include: runny nose, sneezing, coughs, body aches, fever, rashes and mouth blisters. It is often difficult to tell the difference between the common cold and EV-D68, as the symptoms are so similar. Parents should contact their family physician with concerns, if children have difficulty breathing or if symptoms become severe.
How does the virus spread?
Enteroviruses are spread through close contact with someone who is infected — for example, by touching objects or surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
How can I protect myself?
You can help protect yourself from EV-D68 (and other viral infections) by:
• Frequently and thoroughly washing your hands, especially after changing diapers;
• Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands;
• Refraining from kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are ill;
• Disinfecting surfaces that are touched frequently, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
“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 on the DOH website. “Because there is no specific treatment or vaccination against this virus, our best defense is to prevent it by practicing proper hygiene.”
What are the treatments for EV-D68?
There are no specific treatments for EV-D68 or any vaccines to prevent EV-D68-related illnesses. According to the CDC, many infections are mild and require only treating the symptoms. People who have severe respiratory illnesses caused by EV-D68 may need hospitalization.
Have there been any recommendations for school maintenance staff to change their cleaning products or procedures?
At this point in time, there have been no recommendations from the CDC or state/local health departments to change cleaning procedures or products. Districts and their risk management staff will continue to monitor the situation and watch for updates.
How can I get more information?
Visit the CDC website. You can also contact your family physician.
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