The virus that was found in four patients who died, and now extends beyond 40 states, could run its course by the end of the month in places that it first struck in August, medical experts say, The New York Times
Enterovirus 68 also known as EV-D68 can cause severe cold symptoms including fever and coughing. In a very few cases, the virus has been associated with polio-like paralysis or muscle weakness, according to the Times.
The virus is most common toward the end of summer and in early fall with an estimated 10 to 15 million annual infections in the United States, CNN
The severity of this year's outbreak has heightened concerns.
Whiles many have been treated for the symptoms of the disease— starting at Mercy Hospital in Kansas City which handled some 850 sick children— the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 472 cases, the Times reported.
In one fatal case, the condition of a 10-year-old Rhode Island girl deteriorated rapidly soon after she was brought to the hospital with cold symptoms and breathing difficulties. Her death was probably brought about by a staphylococcus aureus sepsis bacterial infection combined with the enterovirus 68, the Times reported.
The director of the Rhode Island Health Department, Michael Fine, said that the role of the enterovirus in the death had not been established but that it was clearly "a sepsis death," CNN reported.
California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer has written to the National Institutes of Health to inquire about the agency's efforts to come up with a vaccine and treatment protocol. She wrote that "Parents are wondering what more can be done to prevent their children from being infected," according to the Times.
"Based on what I'm seeing here," said Mercy Hospital physician Mary Anne Jackson, "I suspect that at least in my community, we're going to be out of enterovirus season soon and we won't be seeing it by the end of the month."
Medical experts say basic hygiene can help prevent getting the virus. This includes washing hands regularly with soap and warm water, not touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, and disinfecting toys, doorknobs, phones, and computer keyboards, CNN reported.
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