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CDC Confirms Enterovirus Outbreak with 220 Cases

medical malpractice - er errors 1The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have confirmed that 220 people in 31 states (plus the District of Columbia) have been affected as part of an enterovirus outbreak between mid-August and September 24, with more cases likely to be confirmed soon.

The additional cases include those currently being tested by the CDC to confirm the precise identification of the virus in question, as well as newly reported cases. The virus has largely infected children (with one adult as the exception).

Missouri and Illinois are seeing higher than usual reported cases of the Enterovirus D68, which is commonly thought to be less prevalent than other strains. However, specific statistics are hard to come by due to the fact that official records are not kept and case reporting is voluntary.

In addition to Washington DC, Missouri, and Illinois, other states affected thus far are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

Enterovirus side effects range from mild to severe

The Enterovirus D68 is one of many non-polio respiratory enteroviruses. The side effects of Enterovirus D68 can range from mild to severe, making it difficult to tell apart from more commonly experienced viruses. Patients with mild cases of the virus may experience symptoms such as fever, cough and sneezing, runny nose, and body or muscle ache. Such cases may not be reported.

However, in more severe cases, patients have trouble breathing and have to be hospitalized. While some patients take days to reach this critical point, others arrive in the emergency room gasping after less than 24 hours of illness. No deaths have been reported in connection to the virus.

There are no vaccines to prevent the spreading of the virus and no medications to treat it. Treatment is largely symptomatic. For more severe cases, patients can be given oxygen and other types of medical interventions to assist with breathing.

Enterovirus outbreak has affected mostly children

The high number of infants, children, and teenagers who have contracted the disease is probably due to fact that the young have yet to build up immunities to the illness. Children with a history of respiratory problems, such as asthma, have a higher risk of contracting the disease and many who have been hospitalized thus far have had asthma, allergies, or other respiratory problems.

The normal season for Enterovirus D68 is summer and fall. However, the start of school appears to have accelerated the rate of the disease’s spread, with states such as Georgia reporting an uptick in cases just after the start of school in August, while New York and Connecticut, which started school after Labor Day, report an increase in cases after that point.

Preventing the spread of Enterovirus D68

As vaccines and medication to protect against or treat Enterovirus D68 do not yet exist, the best approach so far centers on prevention. The virus is commonly spread through saliva and nasal discharge. The CDC recommends washing hands for 20 seconds, avoiding physical contact or sharing objects such as cups or utensils with a person known to be ill, and disinfecting surfaces such as toys or doorknobs if a sick person is in the house.