Credit CDC – Non Polio-Enteroviruses
The Human Enterovirus – Delta 68 outbreak which I’ve been writing about for the past 10 days (see Enterovirus D-68 (HEV-D68) Update) has continued to spread, and over the weekend led many newscasts. Today, the CDC held a press briefing on this emerging viral threat, featuring Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Anne Schuchat, (RADM, USPHS) and Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases.
Admiral Schuchat, as many will remember, distinguished herself with her expertly handled press conferences during the opening weeks of the 2009 pandemic.
While cautioning that the situation is `dynamic’ and `evolving quickly’, what we know right now is that in August doctors in Kansas City and Chicago noticed an uptick in respiratory infection visits by children to the ER, and sent samples to the CDC for testing. Ages ranged from 6 weeks to 16 years, with the average being 4 to 5.
Some children – particularly those with asthma – were sick enough to require hospitalization.
Most (but not all) of the tests came back positive for EV-D68 – a rarely seen enterovirus in the United States – but one which has been popping up more often in the past 5 years (see MMWR: Clusters Of HEV68 Respiratory Infections 2008-2010).
The CDC is now testing samples from about a dozen states, and results should be make public in the coming days. Later today, we expect to see an early release MMWR on the Kansas City Chicago clusters.
Dr. Schuchat is urging that clinicians consider testing any unusual clusters of respiratory illness around the nation, and that while mild respiratory illnesses are common in children, that parents pay particular attention if their kids are wheezing or having difficulty breathing.
How well, or far this virus will travel is unknown, although anecdotal evidence suggests it is doing pretty well in both categories. We’ll have a better idea when tests are complete from other states, but since this is not a reportable disease – and testing is both difficult and not always readily available – the size and scope of this outbreak may remain elusive.
The CDC will post a transcript and audio file later today on www.cdc.gov/media.
In the meantime, the Iowa Department of Public Health has made the following announcement today, which carries some treatment and prevention advice as well.
The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced a virus that has caused outbreaks in Illinois, Ohio, Kansas and other states is also causing illness in Iowa. Enterovirus EV-D68, like other enteroviruses, appears to spread through close contact with infected people. Enteroviruses, including EV-D68, are not a reportable disease in Iowa or the U.S.; therefore, the number of cases of the virus is not tracked.
EV-D68 often begins like a cold and symptoms include coughing and wheezing; most people will recover at home without complications however, some people with severe respiratory caused by EV-D68 may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy. Infants, children, and teenagers, especially those with a history of asthma or those who have a condition that compromises their immune system, are most likely to become severely ill. Parents of children with cold-like symptoms that experience difficulty breathing should contact their health care provider.
There are currently no medications available for treatment for EV-D68 infections and there is no vaccine available for the virus. Most infections resolve on their own and require only treatment at home:
- Drink plenty of fluids.
- Stay home so you do not spread the virus to others.
- Clean frequently touched surfaces to stop the spread the spread of the virus at home.
To help reduce the risk of getting infected with EV-D68:
- Wands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- 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, especially if someone is sick.
Enteroviruses are very common viruses; there are more than 100 types. It is estimated that 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year, usually in the summer and fall.