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NYC: ‘No confirmed cases’ of enterovirus D-68 in Brooklyn

Serious respiratory infection hits kids upstate

September 15, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
New York City Health Department said on Monday that no confirmed cases of enterovirus D-68 have been reported in the city.  AP photo by Paul Sakuma

Responding to parents’ fears that enterovirus D-68 has spread to Brooklyn, the New York City Health Department said on Monday that there are no confirmed cases of the respiratory virus in the city.

Parents in Borough Park panicked when they heard over the weekend that one or more children were seriously ill with the same respiratory virus that has sent hundreds of kids in the Midwest to the hospital.

A Department of Health spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle on Monday, “There are no confirmed cases in New York City. The Health Department is monitoring the situation and remains in frequent contact with the CDC, as well as hospitals, clinicians and laboratories.”

“We remind New Yorkers that the best way to prevent the spread of many infectious diseases is through frequent and thorough hand washing,” the spokesperson continued. “Parents with concerns should consult their child’s doctor.”

More than a dozen children in upstate New York have come down with the illness, according to the NYS Department of Health.

The DOH says that enterovirus D-68 can cause severe illness among children, and is especially tough on kids with asthma.

Cases have been confirmed in the Capital Region and Central New York. Specimens from other regions are being tested now.

Though not unknown, enterovirus D-68 has been very rarely reported in the United States, Dr. Ann Schuchat, director of CDC’s national center for immunization and respiratory diseases, said at a press briefing last Monday.

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The CDC wants to alert physicians and parents about the severity of symptoms.

“There’s no specific treatment for this, and many illnesses that are mild will resolve on their own. But others who have more severe illness may need to be hospitalized and require supportive care. Importantly, since we have identified asthma as a factor in some of the illnesses, we think it’s very important for asthma to be well treated and controlled,” Schuchat said.

Parents should be on the lookout for difficulty breathing, she said. “That’s a warning sign for parents. Runny nose and the sniffles are not unexpected and that can be caused by many different things, but it if looks like your child is having difficulty breathing, you absolutely want to seek medical help.”

Twelve states have contacted the CDC for assistance with the outbreak: Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Utah.

“It is important that we follow common sense rules to prevent the spread of this virus, as we do for flu and other contagious illnesses,” Acting State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said in a statement. “Because there is no specific treatment or vaccination against this virus, our best defense is to prevent it by practicing proper hygiene.”

Symptoms can include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body aches, but the illness is so unusual there may be other, unknown, symptoms as well.

A spokesperson for Mercy Children’s Hospital in Kansas City told Mashable that nearly 500 children had been hospitalized with severe respiratory symptoms in the past few weeks.

Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

The state Health Department advises:

* Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.

* Avoid touching your 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.

* Use the same precautions you would use to prevent the spread of influenza.

 More information about enterovirus D-68 can be found at: http://www.cdc.gov

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