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Enterovirus D68 confirmed in Utah, positive cases at Primary Children’s Hospital

Posted at 1:15 PM, Sep 23, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Department of Health has confirmed Enterovirus D68 is in Utah.

The positive results showed up in 12 of 22 samples sent to the CDC from Primary Children’s Hospital.

“We’ve seen an increase in the number of children being admitted with severe respiratory symptoms who test positive for rhino virus and enternovirus,” said Dr. Andrew Pavia, the hospital’s division chief of pediatric infectious diseases. “In addition to the 12 positive samples, Primary Children’s had 37 rhino/enterovirus positive admissions in the past week and 10 of those were admitted to the Pediatric ICU.”

Utah is the 30th state to have patients test positive for Enterovirus D68.

“Other states have experienced about 6-8 weeks typically from first recognizing the virus until it seems to be almost gone which is what we are anticipating,” Pavia said. “The rate of increase may be slowing but we don’t think we have passed the peak of the outbreak.”

Utah health officials are continuing to work with the CDC, hospitals and the health care community to closely monitor the situation.

The only way to detect the virus is to have it tested in a lab. Pavia said there is no way to predict how many other patients may have been infected.

The Utah Health Department said enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person or by touching objects or surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

The ages of those infected in Utah vary from 4 months old to 20 years old. The median age has been 4.

There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections, however, Pavia said it is not deadly.

“This is not a deadly virus, if this was influenza we would expect to see deaths throughout the country and deaths in Utah,” Pavia said. “We think that most of the people that are being infected with Enterovirus D68 are having mild symptoms, they are having cough, fever and they are staying at home and are being treated as an outpatient.”

Dr. Allyn Nakashima, State Epidemiologist, Utah Department of Health (UDOH) said, “It’s important to remember that the best way to prevent spread of this severe respiratory illness is by practicing proper hygiene.”

There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections other than management of symptoms and no specific anti-viral medications are currently available for this purpose.

Take steps to protect yourself and others from respiratory infections:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
  • 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.
  • Use the same precautions you would use to prevent the spread of influenza.

These prevention steps are especially important for individuals or persons with family members who are infants or who have chronic health conditions or compromised immune systems.

Symptoms of enterovirus illness can include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and body aches.

Information from the Utah Department of Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital.