Enterovirus 68 respiratory illness suspected in King County

King County Health officials are working to confirm the presence of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in King County,

King County Health officials are working to confirm the presence of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in King County, looking at a group of patients in Seattle Children’s Hospital who have “severe respiratory illness” and “tested positive for a possible enterovirus infection.”

At this time, additional testing is also being preformed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in an attempt to figure out if it’s the strain of EV-D68 that has recently struck several Midwest states.

Health officials are stressing that at this time, there are no confirmed cases of EV-68 in King County.

“Although we can’t currently say that these cases are definitely due to EV-D68, it would not be surprising of the virus is confirmed on further testing,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, chief of communicable diseases and epidemiology at Public Health- Seattle and King County.

According to the county, large numbers of children could develop respiratory infections in a short time period if EV-D68 appears locally. The virus spreads in a fashion similar to the common cold, and the county notes that an EV-D68 infection leads to “the vast majority of children [having] a mild illness that does not require medical attention.” However, children with respiratory issues are more susceptible to the virus.

“It’s important for families to make sure asthma symptoms are under control, and to see a health care provider if a person with asthma develops a respiratory illness that worsens asthma symptoms,” Duchin added.

According to Public Health, there is no vaccine for enterovirus. It’s recommended that people follow common sense hygiene rules in order to limit exposure to and spread of, the virus. Among those practices recommended are:

• Washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds

• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

• Avoid contact with ill people

• Do not go to day care, school or work while ill

• 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

• Children and adults with asthma should be sure to have their asthma symptoms under control and see a health care provider if they develop a respiratory infection and their asthma worsens.

To learn more, visit www.kingcounty.gov.