1) What is happening now?
- Enterovirus D-68 has been confirmed in three San Francisco residents as of October 8, 2014. All the affected individuals are children under the age of 18. Two of them were admitted to hospitals for respiratory illness in mid-September and discharged in good condition. The third was hospitalized with limb paralysis and discharged in late September.
- The first case was confirmed October 3, 2014. That patient was treated at an out-of-county hospital. The second case was confirmed October 8, 2014. That patient was treated at a San Francisco hospital. The third case was confirmed October 8, 2014. That patient was treated at a San Francisco hospital.
- We have not received reports of outbreaks or clusters of severe respiratory disease in children here in San Francisco.
- The California Department of Public Health, and national health experts, are investigating whether there is a connection between Enterovirus D68 and limb weakness or paralysis. That work is ongoing and inconclusive at this time.
- We are always prepared for an outbreak of an infectious disease like EV-D68 in San Francisco.
- The San Francisco Department of Public Health has shared information about EV-D68 with local hospitals and medical providers, and will continue to do so as new information is available.
2) What is Enterovirus?
- Enterovirus D-68 is a viral infection that is circulating widely in the United States, and has been diagnosed in a number of California counties.
- Symptoms of EV-D68 are usually mild and are similar to the symptoms of a cold or flu. They include fever (although fever may not be present), runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Many infected individuals may have only mild symptoms.
- EV-D68 can occasionally cause severe respiratory symptoms, especially in children with a history of asthma.
- EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces.
- EV-D68 was first detected in the 1960s. It is not a new disease, but it is not frequently seen circulating in the community. Outbreaks of EV-D68 are similar to outbreaks of other illnesses such as cold and flu. The difference is that the virus is less common.
- In children with a prior history of asthma, the virus can cause serious breathing problems. As always, if your child has difficulty breathing or wheezing, it is very important to seek medical care.
3) Can Enterovirus be treated?
- As for colds, there is no specific treatment for Enterovirus infection. However, there are treatments available for the resulting breathing problems.
- Parents should seek medical attention immediately for children who are having any breathing difficulty (wheezing, difficulty speaking or eating, belly pulling in with breaths, blueness around the lips), particularly if the child suffers from asthma.
- There is no vaccine to prevent EV-D68. However, everyone six months of age and older should receive influenza vaccine every year to protect themselves against that important cause of respiratory disease.
4) How can we prevent transmission?
- To prevent transmission of EV-D68, you should:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- If you are sick, stay home from work or school.
- Cover your cough and sneeze.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
Additional information about Enterovirus D68
Centers for Disease Control: http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/EV-D68.html
California Department of Public Health: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/NR14-080.aspx
San Francisco Communicable Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.sfcdcp.org/healthalerts.html