Hospitals in the St. Louis area have reported clusters of severe respiratory illness in patients, especially children.
Testing of cases by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified an enterovirus, EV-D68. While there are more than 100 types of enteroviruses, which are common viruses of respiratory illness, EV-D68 is less common.
“The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) is closely monitoring the increase in respiratory illness found in some hospitals,” IDPH Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck said. “While we are seeing some severe illnesses and take these very seriously, it’s important to know that the steps you can take to avoid becoming ill, and the treatment for this, are similar to those of most illnesses.”
Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. To help protect yourself and others from enterovirus infections:
• Wash your hands often with soap and water
• Avoid close contact (touching and shaking hands) with people who are sick
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces
• Stay home when sick
Symptoms of enterovirus illness can include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and body aches. Because EV-D68 has not been reported commonly, the full spectrum of illness due to this type of enterovirus is not well-known.
“If you, or your child, are experiencing coldlike symptoms and are having difficulty breathing, contact your health care provider right away,” Hasbrouck said.
There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections and no specific anti-viral medications.