Medical experts confirmed some cases of patients suffering from respiratory illnesses in Oklahoma hospitals are because of the Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) strain.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health received confirmation, Tuesday, through laboratory testing conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that EV-D68 is circulating and causing respiratory illness in Oklahoma.
Although enteroviruses are a common cause of respiratory illness, EV-D68 is a relatively rare type of enterovirus in the US. To date, EV-D68 has been confirmed in 11 other states, including Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado.
The CDC laboratory has reported seven of 24 specimens submitted from Oklahoma hospitals and laboratories tested positive for the virus which has been associated with an increase in pediatric admissions at hospitals in the central region of the state.
According to the state health department, EV-D68 infection looks very similar to the common cold with most persons showing symptoms of cough, runny nose, body aches, and possibly a fever. 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.
“Children less than 5 years old and children with underlying asthma appear to be at greatest risk of having medical complications from EV-D68 requiring hospitalization,” said State Epidemiologist Dr. Kristy Bradley.
“If a child develops a cold or a cough, parents and caregivers should just watch the child a little more closely to ensure the respiratory infection is running a normal course. If wheezing or asthma-like symptoms develop, medical care should be accessed immediately.”
Medical providers are not required to report suspected cases of the virus to state public health authorities. Therefore, the number of actual cases in the state cannot be tracked. Officials are, however, monitoring the trend of hospital admissions for acute respiratory illness, and requesting that any outbreaks of respiratory disease in daycares or schools be reported to the OSDH.
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.
There are no specific treatments or vaccines to prevent EV-D68 infections.