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Move Over Colds and Flu - Enterovirus Could Make Its Way to North Dakota

Date:  September 12th, 2014

Contact/Phone:  Mary Muhlbradt
Phone: (701)857-5116
Fax: (701)857-5683

e-mail:   Mary Muhlbradt

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No need for alarm, but it may be just a matter of time before the recently emerged enterovirus (EV-D68) finds its way into North Dakota, Infectious Disease Specialist Casmiar Nwaigwe, MD, said.

Enterovirus D68 is a cold-like illness that has affected hundreds of children in states across the country. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed that hospitals are seeing more children than usual with severe respiratory illness. They're watching the situation closely to understand the extent of the outbreak.

“There is no immediate cause for concern here in North Dakota,” Dr. Nwaigwe said, “but parents, health and school officials should make a point of informing themselves about the virus because eventually it could affect us here.”

Most cases of EV-D68 result in mild symptoms similar to those of the common cold. But in a number of instances, children can develop respiratory illness that requires medical attention. "The symptoms can progress quickly,” Dr. Nwaigwe noted. “Children may start wheezing and coughing as if they had asthma. There might be some mild fever, and sometimes there's a rash or itch. But it progresses very rapidly to a point where they need to be hospitalized."

Dr. Nwaigwe says children are more susceptible to EV-D68 because they haven't had a chance to build up immunity. Adults, on the other hand, have been exposed to many strains of enterovirus throughout their lives. He adds that children with asthma or another underlying condition are especially vulnerable.

“There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections,” Dr. Nwaigwe added. “Many infections will be
mild, requiring only treatment of the symptoms. Some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy.”

According to the CDC, EV-D68 isn't frequently identified, so the ways it spreads are not as well understood as other enteroviruses. The virus can be found in respiratory secretions such as saliva, nasal mucus and likely spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces.

"Wash your hands, cover your cough, cover your sneeze and always use hand sanitizers because you can pick it up by touching a surface where this virus is deposited,” Dr. Nwaigwe said, adding, “Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, especially if someone is sick. And avoid close contact with people who are sick.” SPACE index.php