The death of a 4 year old boy in Hamilton Township, Mercer County New Jersey, yesterday is being investigated as a possible casualty of the Enterovirus D-68 virus which has caused a significant number of illnesses, in children, across the country this year. Health officials are trying to figure out when and where he got sick. Tests for the disease have been submitted to the CDC. The child was a preschool student at Yardville Elementary and the classroom that this child has been closed to be cleaned. Parents of other students at the school are quite concerned of a possibility that the virus could spread and many are keeping their own children home for the near future.
The death of this child comes as local hospitals are seeing a dramatic increase in respiratory illnesses among children, and some are taking special precautions. Cooper University Hospital now has signs displayed telling visitors that there is now a policy restricting visitors because of the growing number of children sick with a respiratory virus.
As reported earlier, the signs and symptoms associated with EV-D68 are not classic like those in ordinary, more common viruses that we are familiar with. Fever, cough, and runny nose are usually what one associates viruses with, but EV-D68 does not conform to the same classic design. According to Mary Anne Jackson, MD, “Only 25% to 30% of our kids have fever, so the vast majority don’t. Instead, kids with EV-D68 infections have a cough and trouble breathing, sometimes with wheezing. They act like they have asthma, even if they don’t have a history of it, she says. They’re just not moving air.”
“From mid-August to September 19, 2014, a total of 160 people in 22 states were confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.” The Enterovirus D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens collected from a person’s nose or throat. These new cases of EV-D68 infection were confirmed by the CDC, or state public health laboratories that reported their outcomes to the CDC.
Currently, there are no specific treatments for people with EV-D68. For patients that exhibit mild-like symptoms, doctors recommend using up over-the-counter medicines for pain and feverishness. If a child displays any symptoms such as difficulty breathing or wheezing, it is highly recommended that emergency personnel be called immediately, or they get to the nearest hospital to receive medical attention. Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Here are some other ways to combat this illness.
– 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.
In Hamilton Township parents await nervously await for the test results from both local, state and federal authorities and mourn for the loss of this 4 year old child.