Four people have died who were found to have Enterovirus D68, otherwise known as EV-D68, in their bodies. It is unclear if the enterovirus, a virus commonly found in late summer and early fall had actually contributed to their death. The virus has been sending numerous people to hospitals due to severe respiratory problems, particularly children who have asthma. Recently, however, a 10-year-old girl died on September 22 due to complications including Enterovirus D68.
CNN reported, as of Wednesday, around 500 people were confirmed in 42 states to have the virus. Though the virus is reported to infect 10 to 15 million people a year, it has alarmingly caused many children to seek treatment at hospitals for shortness of breath. Emily Otrando, the 10-year-old who recently passed away, is no exception. She was rushed to the hospital after she reportedly experienced breathing problems.
CNN reported that according to Dr. Michael Fine, the director of the Department of Health in Rhode Island, Otrando had actually been diagnosed with “Staphylococcus aureus sepsis.” Though recent tests confirmed Otrando had EV-D68, Fine had stated she died from complications associated with sepsis, an illness which affects the entire body, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Though four people who were found to have Enterovirus D68 have died, including Otrando, health officials stated it is unclear what role the virus played in their deaths. Three of the four deaths occurred in September, according to FOX News, but so far the CDC has declined to release details about the deaths.
According to Dr. John Young, who specializes in chronic and genetic diseases and is based in Florida, the children who died appeared to have had an underlying illness. Young added that children who are generally healthy should not experience such severe symptoms, adding that the majority of children who are exposed to the virus usually recover completely.
Young stated that antibiotics do not work with viral infections, nor have antibiotics been proven to work “if you don’t have an immune system.” Therefore, Young reportedly cautioned parents to have their pediatrician monitor their children’s Vitamin D levels. He added parents should also monitor their children’s sugar intake, as it is known to suppress the immune system.
Enteroviruses have been known to be common around this time of year, but EV-D68 appears to be the dominant strain this year. The Wall Street Journal reported Mark Pallansch, CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases director, stated this type of virus is, for the most part, rare. Pallansch added that this strain has also only been followed for the past several years. Experts are reportedly still trying to determine the role of EV-D68 in infections. Thus far, they cannot determine its role in recent deaths.
Meanwhile, six of eight children in Colorado who had shown signs of paralysis also tested positive for enteroviruses. Only four of those children tested positive for EV-D68, however. An additional four children at Boston’s Children’s Hospital are also showing signs of paralysis, though, and doctors are trying to determine if it is due to EV-D68. New York Daily News stated one of the children had tested negative for the specific virus and test results for the other children were pending. All of the children reportedly had respiratory symptoms prior to having limb weaknesses.
Enterovirus D68 was found in four people who have died, and recently, two children in the Los Angeles area have been diagnosed with the same type of virus. One child reportedly had symptoms of “partial paralysis,” according to KTLA News. The child is between five and ten years old, and was discharged with continued symptoms. CDC is currently investigating if a link exists between EV-D68 and symptoms of paralysis.
By Liz Pimentel
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