ST. LOUIS -An outbreak of a respiratory virus that has sent hundreds of children to hospitals in Missouri and might be spreading in other parts of the Midwest and the United States has raised alarms and prompted call for precaution
Enteroviruses, which bring on symptoms like a very intense cold, aren’t unusual. Mark Pallansch, a virologist and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division of Viral Diseases, said “When you have a bad summer cold, often what you have is an enterovirus,” he said.
SYMPTOMS AND PRECAUTIONS
Symptoms include fever, body and muscles aches, sneezing, coughing and rash, one hospital said.
To reduce the risk of infection, individuals should wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick; disinfect frequently-touched surfaces such as toys and doorknobs; and stay home when feeling sick, the Missouri agency said.
The season often hits its peak in September and the unusually high number of hospitalizations reported now could be “just the tip of the iceberg in terms of severe cases…We’re in the middle of looking into this,” he told CNN on Sunday, adding “We don’t have all the answers yet.”
“Ten states have contacted the CDC for assistance in investigating clusters of enterovirus — Colorado, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky.
The unusual situation now is that there have been so many hospitalizations.
The virus is sending 30 children a day to a Kansas City, Missouri, hospital, where about 15% of the youngsters were placed in intensive care, officials said,” according to CNN.com.
NO VACCINE FOR VIRUS
“This particular type of enterovirus — EV-D68 — is uncommon, but not new. It was first identified in the 1960s and there have been fewer than 100 reported cases since that time. But it’s possible, Pallansch said, that the relatively low number of reports might be because EV-D68 is hard to identify. EV-D68 was seen last year in the United States and this year in various parts of the world. Over the years, clusters have been reported in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and various countries including the Philippines, Japan and the Netherlands,” CNN,com reported.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Service said vaccines for EV-D68 aren’t currently available, and there is no specific treatment for infections, the Missouri agency said.
“Many infections will be mild and self-limited, requiring only symptomatic treatment,” it said. “Some people with several respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy.”
Some cases of the virus might contribute to death, but none of the Missouri cases resulted in death and no data are available for overall morbidity and mortality from the virus in the United States, the agency said.
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