Brooke Black & Lauren Mangano
A fatal respiratory disease, enterovirus D68, has been striking kids all across the country this summer and has now infected four children in Pennsylvania due to its extreme contagiousness. As of Sept. 25, one death has been reported of four-year-old Eli Waller of Hamilton Township, N.J.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed a total of 538 people in 43 states and the District of Columbia with respiratory illness caused by the virus thus far. Going to school in a closed environment gives the virus an easy way to spread, which is a reason why it has been so common among children.
The enterovirus starts out like a common cold but can turn more serious quite quickly. Some symptoms includes fever, body aches, coughing, sneezing, skin rash, and runny or stuffy nose. In some cases, the virus can also cause problems with breathing, especially for those with asthma. Most of time, children are hospitalized for four to six weeks but some cases resolve themselves in a little over a week. Many intensive care units have been treating over 80 children per month.
Officials say they believe there are thousands of unreported cases because most parents assume it is just a cold. But if kids continue to go to school sick, the disease will continue to spread.
“Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t require hospitals and labs to report the enterovirus, public health officials may never know the true scope of the outbreak,” according to Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser.Doctors advise that as soon as you start coughing or wheezing, to seek medical help. There is no specific treatment for the virus, but precautions can be taken. To protect yourself you can wash your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands, cover your mouth/nose when you cough and sneeze, and stay home when you are sick.