Amidst the panic of the Ebola virus and the numerous violent clashes that are occurring in many places, the Enterovirus D68 has quietly made deadly advances and is spreading rapidly across the United States. Cases have been quickly spreading with most of the virus’ victims being young children.
The latest victim, toddler Madeline Reid died Wednesday afternoon at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Some of the symptoms of this strain of the Enterovirus are cranial nerve dysfunction, limb weakness, as well as abnormalities in spinal gray matter. It was first noticed by doctors in Colorado where ten children had been hospitalized with symptoms.
Since the initial discovery in Colorado, over 45 states now have documented cases of the dangerous virus. Although there are hundreds of strains, the D68 strain is particularly worrisome as there has not been much progress made on testing. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and many medical facilities are urging people to be diligent with hygiene and to get a flu shot as soon as possible. They are even suggesting that children between the ages of six months and eight years old get two doses of the vaccine four weeks apart.
In another heartbreaking case, four-year old Eli Waller of New Jersey died on Sept. 25th of this year. Eli, who suffered from birth defects and was one of a set of triplets, is believed to be the first death reported. His parents are understandably distraught by the loss of their happy little boy. The Waller’s have now set up a foundation in Eli’s memory. The First Day of School Foundation will raise money for tuition and other requirements of special needs children like Eli. The seriousness of the Enterovirus’ deadly and rapid spread is tragically not lost on this grieving family.
The respiratory sickness starts off like any other respiratory illness with coughs, fevers, body aches and runny noses at the beginning stages. Adults and children who already suffer from respiratory issues are at a much greater risk with this threat. One concerned parent has started a Facebook campaign to get parents involved with keeping this horrible disease at bay. She has suggested that parents check on the conditions of restrooms at their kids schools and report any lack of proper sanitation supplies. She also suggest that schools integrate a cleanliness curriculum so that children will be encouraged to wash their hands and cover their mouths with the insides of their elbows when coughing or sneezing. It should go without saying that adults need to do the same as well, especially when in crowded common areas.
The scary and lethal potentials of the Enterovirus D68 cannot be stressed enough. Hospitals across the world are gearing up for a busy flu season and trying to prepare for the influx of cold and flu sufferers and for those who suspect that they may have something more serious. People are being urged not to panic by the CDC and other health officials, but to instead guard themselves well against potential infection. Sadly, more deaths are expected from Enterovirus as the disease spreads.
Editorial By Mai Nowlin