Respiratory Virus EV-D68 Confirmed In Washington State

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed the presence of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in Washington state, including King County. The CDC testing confirmed that a King County child hospitalized at Seattle Children’s Hospital has respiratory illness associated with EV-D68.

“Confirmation of this case indicates that EV-D68 is likely circulating in our community and regionally, and we could see additional cases over the coming weeks,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease and Epidemiology at Public Health – Seattle & King County. “However, we can’t predict at this time how severe or how long an EV-D68 outbreak might be locally. Outside of Seattle Children’s Hospital, our monitoring does not show an increase in patients hospitalized for asthma in King County.”

The results of the testing also show that EV-D68 is not alone in causing serious respiratory illness. The tests indicated that a variety of common cold viruses that cause uncomplicated infections in most children can cause severe disease in asthmatics and those with underlying lung diseases. Although influenza virus was not detected in these children, flu season is just around the corner and influenza is the only viral cause of severe respiratory infections that is preventable through vaccination.

Many people who get sick from EV-D68 have only mild symptoms, like runny nose or coughing with or without fever. Parents should be watchful for any signs of wheezing or worsening asthma and seek medical help promptly if breathing difficulty occurs. Children and adults with asthma should be sure to take their medications as prescribed and have an asthma control plan with their health care provider. They should contact their healthcare provider promptly if asthma symptoms worsen even after taking medication.

There is no specific treatment or vaccine for EV-D68 infections. Testing is done to determine when the virus is present in the community, but is not helpful for individual patients and is not needed or available in non-hospitalized cases.

Influenza is a cause of widespread respiratory infections each year, and is especially serious in children and adults with underlying asthma and other lung diseases and chronic medical conditions. Influenza vaccine is an effective way to prevent this important cause of respiratory viral illnesses and hospitalizations and everyone should remember to get the flu shot this season.


What is an enterovirus?

Enteroviruses are very common viruses; there are more than 100 types. It is estimated that 10 to 15 million people get enterovirus infections in the United States each year.

Most people infected with enteroviruses have only mild symptoms or none at all, but some infections can be serious.

Most enterovirus infections in the United States occur during the late summer and fall.

What is enterovirus D68?

  • Although enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is not a new virus, it is less common than other enteroviruses. Compared with other enteroviruses, EV-D68 has been rarely reported in the United States for the last 40 years.
  • EV-D68 can cause serious respiratory symptoms. It can be particularly serious for children with asthma or other conditions that make breathing difficult. For these children, EV-D68 infections can result in hospitalization.

What are the symptoms of EV-D68?

The virus can cause symptoms similar to a cold. In some cases, symptoms can go beyond coughing and congestion to difficulty breathing or wheezing.

How is the EV-D68 virus spread?

EV-D68 appears to spread through contact with respiratory secretions (from coughs or sneezes) of infected people.

How is EV-D68 treated?

  • Many infections are mild. They require only medication taken for personal comfort.
  • People with severe difficulty breathing may need to be hospitalized and may receive intensive supportive therapy.
  • No medications are currently available for treating EV-D68 infections.

What can be done to avoid getting an EV-D68 infection?

There are currently no vaccines for preventing EV-D68 infections. Do the following to reduce the risk of getting infected with EV-D68:

  • Children and adults with asthma should be sure to have their asthma symptoms under control, and see a healthcare provider if they develop a respiratory infection and their asthma symptoms worsen.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
  • 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.
  • If you’re ill, do not go to daycare, school or work.
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