Enterovirus-68, the uncommon and serious respiratory illness which first hit the Midwest, is now moving over the entire country. Hospitals have started working with health departments and representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in order to attempt to bring under control the infection and also achieve patient care.
Anne Schuchat, who works as director of the CDC’s Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stated that it was difficult to guess how large the spread of the illness would go or for how long. Officials from the CDC explained that 130 children in the states of Missouri, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Illinois, Alabama, New York, Indiana, Louisiana, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Kentucky have tested positive for EV-68. The virus does not have a vaccine and lasts for approximately seven days.
The uncommon respiratory virus is believed to be spread through bodily fluids such as mucus and saliva and also transmitted through contaminated surfaces such as door handles, play items and counter-tops. Virus symptoms consist of a runny nose, trouble in breathing, being stuffed up, body aches and pains, wheezing in the chest, fever, rashes and even paralysis. Patients who are infected are treated inside of a hospital’s intensive care department. They are treated with oxygen and fluids and given medication in order to help aid in keeping their airways open.
The majority of hospitals are able to test and conclude almost instantaneously if an infection is an enterovirus or is a rhinovirus, which is the sickness that causes the common cold. However they do not have the advanced technology to narrow the samples farther down to see if the virus is actually EV-68. This can only be accomplished by a limited number of labs located around the United States and also at the CDC. Hospitals have their samples taken to local health departments, which in turn send them to state health facilities before they are taken to the center in Atlanta. EV-68 diagnosis is completed by using detailed laboratory tests on swabs taken from the throat or nose of a patient. Officials of the CDC did not have an estimate of how many samples that had been received.
It is unknown why the virus first hit in the Midwest and struck so hard. The sickness remains a problem but the CDC wants to remind physicians in the region not to forget about other infections, several of which imitate EV-68’s symptoms. Health officials also do not have a reason why this specific strain of virus has increased like it has. There are over 100 different kinds of enteroviruses that exist, and it is believed that 12 to 15 million enterovirus infections happen in America every year. The majority of people who become infected do not have any symptoms or very few but for other individuals, the virus ends up being a serious problem.
The CDC is attempting to figure out the virus in a better manner. EV-68 has more relentlessly affected children who suffer from asthma or have wheezing problems in their chests. Officials do not understand why respiratory ailments appear to be higher risk issues for the illness or why children overall are the ones who have been affected so harshly. There still have been no known adult infections from Enterovirus-68, and no one had died from the uncommon and serious respiratory illness, but that does not mean it could not still happen.
By Kimberly Ruble