By Daniel Loftus SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Enterovirus D-68 (or EV-D68), a virus which causes a respiratory illness that can become mild to severe, has been diagnosed in 39 children around Upstate New York, according to the New York State Department of Health.
To date, there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Onondaga County. Concerns over whether EV-D68 were addressed by Dr. Quoc Nguyen, the Onondaga County Health Department Medical Director.
“I hope not, but I would not be surprised at all,” said Dr. Nguyen.
This is not the first time in recent history that this type of enterovirus has shown up in high numbers around the United States. In 2014 there were a confirmed 1,153 people with the respiratory virus caused by EV-D68 in 49 states and the District of Columbia, according to the CDC.
Although the polio virus and Enterovirus belong to the same “family” of viruses, Dr. Nguyen said the idea that the recent outbreaks of EV-D68 are a result of it filling a void left behind by polio is not likely. Dr. Nguyen said improvements in the molecular diagnostics could be the reasoning behind the jump in confirmed cases.
“We are more attunded to it and we can diagnose it more readily,” said Dr. Nguyen.
Dr. Nguyen said that the people who experience the symptoms associated with EV-D68, things such as runny nose, sneezing, cough, body aches, are only a small portion of those who actually get the virus, so most cases go undocumented and are not severe.
- READ: For more on EV-D68, read information about the virus provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
“The cases that are symptomatic… are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg,” said Dr. Nguyen.
The Onondaga County Health Department recently sent out a health advisory so health care providers have more information on how to treat and identify EV-D68.
There is no vaccine for the Enterovirus D-68. Dr Nguyen provided some tips for avoiding it:
- Keep ones hands away from ones face
- Don’t share eating/drinking utensils
- Avoid those who are sick
- Wash hands freqently
- Those with asthma should take extra care and seek care if they begin to feel ill.