Mysterious, deadly virus lands in Oregon, USA

EV-D68 Virus Alert

Oregon has joined 46 other states in dealing with a mysterious and potentially fatal virus, the Oregon Health Authority announced Thursday. Four cases of Enterovirus D68 — three in Multnomah County — have been found in Oregon. All four are children and all four have recently been in hospital intensive care units.
 
The highly contagious virus has hit 678 people, most children, since mid-August, most in the Midwest, and is believed to have caused five deaths. According to Dr. Richard Leman, a public health physician with the Oregon Health Authority, Enterovirus D68 is attaining notoriety this year because previously testing for the specific virus was limited.
 
“We fully expect we have had cases in the past but we haven’t been able to test for it,” Leman says.
 
Enterovirus D68 causes breathing problems and is especially dangerous for children younger than 5 and children with asthma or other underlying lung conditions. Children and teens are believed to be especially susceptible because they do not yet have immunity from previous exposures to the collection of Enteroviruses.
 
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Enterovirus D68 is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses. The virus was first identified in California in 1962. It can cause mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms ranging from fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and muscle aches to difficulty breathing.
 
Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their doctor if they are having difficulty breathing or if their symptoms are getting worse, according to the CDC. There is no EV-D68 vaccine.
 
There is no specific treatment for people with respiratory illness caused by EV-D68, according to the CDC. For mild respiratory illness, over-the-counter medications for pain and fever are recommended. Some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized. There are no antiviral medications available for people who become infected with EV-D68.
 
CDC recommended safety measures, include:
 
• 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.
 
• 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.

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