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.
For additional information on enterovirus D-68: www.kingcounty.gov/healthservices/health/communicable/diseases