Today the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) confirmed the presence of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in Maryland. The virus, which has been associated with respiratory infections in children across the country, was identified in a specimen collected from a hospitalized child in suburban Maryland and was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for confirmation.
“Now that this virus is known to be in Maryland, it is important that we all take reasonable steps to limit its spread and control its impact,” said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein.
DHMH is recommending that families:
- Practice preventive steps, as with other ailments, by regularly washing hands with soap and water.
- Provide special attention to children with asthma.
- Be alert to wheezing and other respiratory ailments in children.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cough and sneeze into sleeve or a tissue.
- Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups, eating utensils, etc. with people who are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay up-to-date on vaccinations, especially influenza vaccine, to reduce respiratory illness.
DHMH has been working with healthcare facilities to prepare for the expected arrival of enterovirus D68. Because there is no EV-D68-specific treatment, identifying EV-D68 doesn’t change the treatment of the patient: If a patient is wheezing, the wheezing symptoms can be treated; if a patient is having difficulty breathing, respiratory support and oxygen can be given.
Healthcare providers, as recommended by the CDC should:
- Consider EV-D68 as a possible cause of acute, unexplained severe respiratory illness, even if the patient does not have fever.
- Consider laboratory testing of respiratory specimens for enteroviruses when the cause of respiratory illness in severely ill patients is unclear.
DHMH also will continue to work with school officials and other institutions that monitor student health and activity, for updates on absenteeism and other indicators of respiratory illness activity. The department will continue to conduct surveillance on the spread and impact of this virus.
Enterovirus is one of many viruses that can cause respiratory illness, and there are more than 100 types of enteroviruses that affect humans, causing between 10 million and 15 million illnesses per year. Most people with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious. EV-D68 infections are believed to occur less often than other enterovirus infections. The CDC is providing updates on nationwide D68 infections here. Note: This case is not yet reflected on the CDC site at the time of this announcement.