Doctors Discuss Preventing Rare Respiratory Virus In OKC

Thursday, September 11th 2014, 6:58 pm
By: News 9

A rare respiratory virus spreading across the country is continuing to cause concern for parents and schools. There aren't any confirmed cases in Oklahoma, but that's not stopping the uptick in patients seeing pediatricians.

Doctors say the type of virus has been out 1962, but that's not stopping the increase of patients getting checked out. Oklahoma City School nurses say concern over students with a severe respiratory illness is at a high.

"We went on high alert and we've been on high alert ever since," said Debbie Johnson, the Oklahoma City Public Schools Health Services Administrator.

“So I've been out in the schools, and every secretary tells me, ‘Yep, we've been getting calls from parents' and every school I've been on, there is hand sanitizer at the front desk."

Schools are sanitizing desks, handrails, doorknobs, phones and school buses in hopes of preventing a case of Enterovirus 68, or EV-D68.

9/8/2014 Related Story: Doctors At Oklahoma Hospital Warn Of Rare Respiratory Virus

"Kids, they love to touch their mouths and rub their eyes and cough all over each other, so it's really important for us to keep teaching the hand washing and the coughing into the sleeve," Johnson said.

At Just Kids Pediatrics and Urgent Care, doctors say appointments have up-surged.

"We've also had a lot more sick visits during the day," said Dr. Angela Yaffe, pediatrician and clinic founder.

"In babies, we look for nasal flaring or rib retractions while they're breathing, or that they're breathing too fast. And in older kids, signs that they're having trouble breathing or wheezing, or if that cough is getting progressively severe."

The virus has sickened more than 1,000 children across the Midwest, most under the age of 5 years old. Kids with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, are most affected. Schools are suggesting sick students stay home and recover.

"Kids start coughing and sneezing, and what a breeding ground for germs, so we're watching everywhere," Johnson said.

Doctors say the best way to avoid the virus is to thoroughly wash hands with soap for 20 seconds, sanitize surfaces and avoid sharing food or drink, or coming in close contact with those with cold symptoms.

9/8/2014 Related Story: OK Health Officials Address Spike In Respiratory Illness