First cases of severe respiratory illness may be in WA state - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

First cases of severe respiratory illness may be in WA state

Posted: Updated:
GRANT COUNTY, Wash. -

Washington State and local Public Health officials are working with Seattle Children's Hospital to investigate a small group of patients with a severe respiratory illness who tested positive for enterovirus infection. One of the infected patients is a child from Grant County who tested positive for either enterovirus or rhinovirus. The test used does not distinguish between these two viruses. This child is currently in the hospital.

Additional testing is being done at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that will determine if it is the enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) strain that is being investigated in several states. Results are not expected until next week. The CDC has advised public health officials that there is an increase in enteroviruses in the United States with several active investigations.

At this time there are no confirmed cases of EV-D68 in Grant County or Washington State. Earlier today Grant County Health Officer Dr. Alexander Brzezny issued a public health advisory to local healthcare providers and schools. The advisory is to provide awareness that the virus may be in Washington State and to convey testing recommendations. The CDC states that this is a rapidly evolving situation. The size of the problem and whether EV-D68 is really what is causing illnesses in Washington State is unknown.

Enteroviruses are very common with over 100 types, but EV-D68 has previously been rare in the U.S. In other states, the EV-D68 outbreaks are resulting in many children requiring ER visits and hospitalizations, mostly for breathing problems and severe asthma.

The virus likely spreads from person to person when a sick person coughs, sneezes, or a person touches something with the virus on it. EV-D68 has been causing mild to severe breathing illnessnes (runny nose, cough, difficulty breathing) with and without fever. A small number of people may have worse infections, particularly children with pre-existing asthma.

Parents are asked to contact their child's doctor any time a child experiences difficulty breathing. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for enteroviruses.

To decrease the risk for enterovirus infections Public Health officials recommend:

· Wash hands often with soap and warm 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 child care, school, or work while sick

· Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick

· Frequently disinfect 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 doctor if they develop a respiratory infection and their asthma worsens

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