Updated Oct. 4: There have been two big enterovirus D68 stories in the news this past week. One story is that a preschool-aged boy in New Jersey died this week and he tested positive for the Enterovirus D68. However, that’s all that is known at this time. Health officials have not yet said if that child was perhaps in a more vulnerable population or what role D68 played in his death. For example, if a woman has breast cancer but dies in a car crash…it’s not the cancer that caused her death. Make sense? It is not being reported yet whether or not it was a significant factor in his death. Still very sad and I hope this family can find peace.
The second story involves three young children who have been brought to CHOP recently with muscle weakness and/or numbness. I believe that so far only one has tested positive for the D68 virus. What the media is not reporting and I wish they would: This is significant because the Enterovirus D68 is in the polio family of viruses. If you look at that link, other hospitals are reporting similar situations. I still think it’s important that parents exercise caution, but let’s not panic.
It’s been all over the news, right? Pictures of children and babies in the hospital, hooked up to oxygen…while some doom and gloom broadcaster paints a hopeless picture. “There is no vaccine for this” and “there is no cure, just treating the symptoms.” The enterovirus-D68 even has a scary name, right? What do parents really need to know? Thankfully the PKids group (Parents of kids with infectious diseases) have compiled this infographic and have said it can be shared. Pkids Parents deal with paranoia and abnormal reactions to infectious and contagious diseases all the time.
Ok, yes, we should take this seriously, especially parenting kids with special needs. But the sky is not falling. Use common sense, particularly if your child is a high risk child. If you have any concerns, of course see your pediatrician. We are heading into cold and flu season anyway, so we all should be ramping up our handwashing and other common practices. Teach kids to sneeze into their elbows. Don’t share food and drinks. Keep your hands away from your face. But most importantly, don’t panic. At least not over Entero-68…as special needs parents, we have plenty of other things to panic about! Have a great night and I hope that this enterovirus D68 infographic helps. You can also click the link above to PKids and read more.
Today (9/12) I am editing to add what my school district sent to me:
As you may know as a result of recent media attention, hospitals in Missouri and Illinois are reporting more children than usual with severe respiratory illness caused by Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), and in several other states children are developing severe respiratory illness, possibly due to EV-D68. While there are no confirmed cases in Pennsylvania at this time, the Chester County Health Department has provided us with information on the background of EV-D68 and the recommended prevention measures to limit the potential spread of the virus. Those who have tested positive for the virus in other states are children age 6 weeks to 16 years.
First, it is important to know that EV-D68 is a common virus which causes respiratory illness. Symptoms may include cough, runny nose, sore throat and sometimes fever. There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections and there are no specific medications available for treating EV-D68. Many infections will be mild and self-limiting; however, some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized. Children who have a history of wheezing or asthma are at higher risk for hospitalization, pneumonia, and other complications. Also, EV-D68 is spread from person to person by droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Less often, a person might become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.
Please consult your healthcare provider if you or your children are experiencing symptoms. There are several precautions that you can take to protect yourself and your children from respiratory illnesses which include the following:
- Ensure that you and your children wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially parents and caregivers after changing diapers.
- Encourage your children to avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Prevent your children from 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.
- Keep your child home from school if he or she is sick.
Our school staff will be diligent in assessing the presence of any symptoms associated with EV-D68 and will contact you if your child is demonstrating signs of illness while at school. Please consult your physician if you have any questions or if your child develops any symptoms of EV-D68.
Thank you for maintaining open lines of communication as we work together to prevent the spread of EV-D68.