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Rare virus suspected in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital

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By Sarah Buop, For The Miami Student

Multiple cases of the disease Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) have recently been reported in over 40 states in the U.S. This rare respiratory disease was first reported in California in 1962, and has since been uncommon until recently.

The Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center admitted 540 patients due to similar symptoms of the disease, but there have been no confirmed cases.

According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, generally infants, children and teenagers are most likely to become infected with EV-D68 due to the lack of having full immunity to outside exposures of the virus.

Many of these symptoms are related to the common cold. The CDC reported that mild symptoms might include fever, runny nose, sneezes, cough and body aches. However, the stronger symptoms include wheezing and difficulty breathing. Miami Student Health Center clinician, Dr. Deborah Richardson, spoke about the comparisons with this virus and other common viruses seen on campus.

"The main difference between this virus and other respiratory viruses is this virus tends to make some people much sicker than usual. Some of the people who have had this illness have gotten very short of breath, with dropping oxygen levels, and they have needed to be hospitalized for a while to be stabilized," Dr. Richardson said. "Antibiotics do not help with viruses, but supportive care has been useful for these (sometimes) severely ill patients."

Since mid-August to Sept. 26, 2014, there have been 277 reported cases in the U.S. and the District of Columbia.

Recent cases have suspected a link to paralysis as the virus spreads. Nine reports in Denver, Colorado have been made of weakness in patients' limbs that have tested positive for the virus. The CDC is continuing their investigation on whether paralysis is related to the outbreak of the Enterovirus D68.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) Labroratory recently confirmed an additional nine cases of the virus, for a total of 19 cases in the area. Miami Student Health Center clinician, Dr. Susan Bantz, was sent an email from the State Health Commissioner from Indiana about the confirmed cases of the virus.

"EV-D68 infections can be mild and self-limited, but children with asthma are at risk for severe respiratory illness and may require hospitalization to receive intensive supportive therapy," the Indiana State Health Commissioner said. "People who smoke are also at higher risk for severe infection due to Enterovirus."

Studies show most of the enterovirus infections in the U.S. occur during the summer and fall, and tend to occur in several year cycles.

This virus can be transmitted through contact from the eyes, nose and mouth of an infected person.

"Of course, the best way to avoid picking up this virus, like any other virus, is to follow all the normal healthy suggestions. Wash your hands. Keep your hands away form your eyes and nose and mouth. Don't share beverages or food. Don't kiss anyone who is already sick. And eat a well balanced diet and get good reasonable amounts of rest, to keep your immune system strong," Dr. Richardson said.

According to the CDC, they are continuing to do laboratory testing for the enterovirus, as well as helping multiple state laboratories identify the virus by transferring new diagnostic technologies.