Enterovirus EV-D68 strikes Midwest - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Ohio and Kentucky see suspected enterovirus outbreak


Ohio and Kentucky are two of ten states that have seen an uptick in respiratory illness, prompting the Center for Disease to suspect an outbreak of Enterovirus D68.

"Enteroviruses are very common. There are more than one hundred types of enterovirus. Most of them cause only a mild illness," said Joyce Rice from the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

A form of enterovirus known as D68 is what has health officials concerned because it is a less common strain of the virus. 

Although Kentucky and Ohio have not seen any positive cases of D68, hospitals in the states have reported unusually high rates of respiratory illness to the CDC, prompting officials to investigate the potential for a D68 regional outbreak.

Enterovirus typically causes mild cold-like symptoms, but officials say the D68 form includes serious breathing problems.

Children with respiratory issues or those with asthma are more susceptible to the virus, which Dr. Wheeler, from Cincinnati Children's Hospital, says is the case in Kansas City where multiple patients have tested positive for D68.

"They are seeing a lot of really sick asthmatics. So, I think that is something that we have not necessarily seen to the degree yet here. But I think if you do have a low respiratory system or a low threshold, you should contact your pediatrician," he said.

Kids heading back to class is always a catalyst for spread of viruses, but Dr. Wheeler says he has seen heightened illness amid this back-to-school season.

"Friday afternoon we reached a census of about 540 patients, that is the single highest in-patient census that we have ever had," said Dr. Wheeler.

Health officials say anyone with cold-like symptoms should see their doctor. Those who aren't in need of a doctor visit can be proactive and protect themselves from catching the virus.

"We want people to wash their hands frequently, sneeze into your elbow, cough into your elbow. Don't go to school if you are sick," said Rice.

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