3 San Diego children treated for enterovirus D68
SAN DIEGO — Three San Diego children and another child visiting the area were recently treated at Rady Children’s Hospital for enterovirus D68, a contagious respiratory infection that has been reported in 16 other states, but until now not in California, county health officials said Thursday.
The San Diego cases involved children ranging in age from 2 year to 13 years, the county Health and Human Services Agency said. All have improved and are no longer in the hospital.
“We may learn of more cases in San Diego, but overall county-wide respiratory illnesses have not increased significantly in the community,” said Wilma J. Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “We are monitoring this closely with our local health care providers.”
Enteroviruses are very common. The CDC estimates that 10 million to 15 million infections occur in the United States each year. These viruses usually appear like the common cold; symptoms include sneezing, a runny nose and a cough.
Most people recover without any treatment. But Enterovirus D68 seems to be exacerbating breathing problems in children who have asthma.
The virus is hard to track as many enteroviruses cause similar symptoms and hospitals generally do not test for specific types. But health officials have asked doctors to send in samples if they suspect that Enterovirus D68 has caused a patient’s severe respiratory illness.
Enteroviruses “tend to have a summer-fall pattern,” Skowronski said, so the high number of cases will likely subside over the next few months.
In the meantime, parents should be on the lookout for the symptoms of Enterovirus D68. Unfortunately, in the beginning it’s difficult — if not impossible — to tell the difference between a regular cold and this type of virus. But if your child develops a fever or a rash, or if he has difficulty breathing, seek medical attention right away.
Children with asthma or a history of breathing problems are particularly susceptible for severe symptoms.