For Immediate Release
Health officials are waiting for test results on blood samples from a patient that tested positive for enterovirus at Renown Regional Medical Center last week. A spokesman for the health district confirmed that although enterovirus has been identified, it has not been confirmed to be the Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) strain which has sickened hundreds of Americans.
According to Washoe County Health District Communications Manager Phillip Ulibarri, “It takes a minimum of 7-10 days to confirm the result reported by a commercial or clinical laboratory. It then takes another 10 – 14 days to confirm whether or not the enterovirus strain is EV-D68.” Ulibarri further explained that it’s probably only a matter of time before EV-D68 is identified in a human case in Nevada as we are only one of 5 states in the country that has not had a case as of today’s date. So far over 660 cases have been identified in 45 states.
Enteroviruses are very common; there are more than 100 types with an estimated 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections in the United States each year. Thousands of people are hospitalized each year for illnesses caused by enteroviruses. EV-D68 causes respiratory illness and spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces. Symptoms of EV-D68 may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Some children have more serious illness with breathing difficulty and wheezing, particularly children with a history of asthma.
Parents should seek medical attention immediately for children who are having any breathing difficulty (wheezing, difficulty speaking or eating, belly pulling in with breaths, blueness around the lips), particularly if the child suffers from asthma. There is no specific treatment for persons with EV-D68, nor is there a vaccine to prevent it. However, everyone six months of age and older should receive influenza vaccine every year to protect themselves against that important cause of respiratory disease. Health care providers should consider EV-D68 as a possible cause of acute, unexplained severe respiratory illness, even if the patient does not have fever, and consider laboratory testing of respiratory specimens for enteroviruses when the cause of respiratory illness in severely ill patients is unclear, especially among those ill children requiring hospitalizations.
You can help protect yourself from getting and spreading EV-D68 by following these steps:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick, or when you are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
The United States is currently experiencing a nationwide outbreak of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) associated with severe respiratory illness. From mid-August to October 8, 2014, the CDC or state public health laboratories have confirmed a total of 664 people in 45 states and the District of Columbia (AL, AR, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, IA, ID, KS, KY, LA, MA, ME, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WV, WI, WY) with respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.
According to the CDC, in the upcoming weeks more states will have confirmed cases of EV-D68 infection. The primary reason for increases in cases is that several states are investigating clusters of people with severe respiratory illness, and specimens are still being tested for EV-D68. It can take a while to test specimens and obtain lab results. That’s because the testing is complex and slower, and can only be done by CDC and a small number of state public health laboratories. As the backlog of specimens is processed, the number of states and confirmed cases will likely increase. These increases will not necessarily reflect changes in real time, or mean that the situation is getting worse.
In the United States, people are more likely to get infected with enteroviruses in the summer and fall. We are currently in the middle of the enterovirus season. EV-D68 infections are likely to decline later in the fall. Many state health departments are currently investigating reported increases in cases of severe respiratory illness in children. This increase could be caused by many different viruses that are common during this time of year. EV-D68 appears to be the predominant type of enterovirus this year and may be contributing to the increases in severe respiratory illnesses.
CDC is prioritizing testing of specimens from children with severe respiratory illness. There are likely many children affected with milder forms of illness. Of the specimens tested by the CDC lab, about half have tested positive for EV-D68. About one third have tested positive for an enterovirus or rhinovirus other than EV-D68. EV-D68 has been detected in specimens from five patients who died and had samples submitted for testing. The role that EV-D68 infection played in these deaths is unclear at this time; state and local health departments are continuing to investigate.
Almost all of the CDC-confirmed cases this year of EV-D68 infection have been among children. Many of the children had asthma or a history of wheezing. Additional information about EV-D68 can be found on the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/outbreaks/EV-D68-outbreaks.html.
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About Washoe County Health District: The Washoe County District Board of Health, through the Washoe County Health District, has jurisdiction over all public health matters in Washoe County, Nevada. Its mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for all citizens of Washoe County through health promotion, disease prevention, public health emergency preparedness, and environmental services. The Board of Health is composed of seven members, including two representatives each from Reno, Sparks, and Washoe County, and a physician licensed to practice medicine in Nevada.