First Cluster of EV-D68 Cases Confirmed in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania-Department-of-HealthHarrisburg – The Pennsylvania Department of Health today announced three confirmed cases of EV-D68 in Pennsylvania residents.

EV-D68 is a type of enterovirus more likely found in infants, children and teenagers. The cases were identified from specimens sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from a Philadelphia hospital.

“The department is working with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on this particular cluster and will continue to monitor the situation closely statewide, as we have been since cases have increased rapidly across the country in recent weeks,” said Physician General Dr. Carrie DeLone. “Parents should be vigilant and aware of signs and symptoms, but it’s also important to know that there are other respiratory illnesses that are circulating and the best course of action if you’re unsure is to talk with your healthcare provider.”

Enteroviruses are very common respiratory illnesses with more than 100 types resulting between 10 to 15 million cases occurring in the United States each year.

EV-D68 infections are believed to occur less commonly than other enterovirus infections.

Enteroviruses can cause respiratory illness, rashes with fever, and neurologic illness like aseptic meningitis (swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord) and encephalitis (swelling of the brain). Most people with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious.

While there is no specific treatment for EV-D68, individuals can protect themselves from EV-D68 – and other respiratory illnesses – by doing the following:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cough into your sleeve or a tissue.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups, eating utensils, etc. with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

The ways in which EV-D68 spreads are not yet well understood. The virus causes respiratory illness and is found in saliva, nasal mucus or sputum (spit). The virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces.

Diagnosis for EV-D68 is done using specific laboratory tests on swabs from a patient’s nose or throat. Although doctors and hospitals in Pennsylvania may be able to test for the presence of enterovirus, they cannot test to determine if an illness is specifically caused by EV-D68.

Many infections will be mild and require only treatment of the symptoms. Some people with severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 may need to be hospitalized.

Once we have identified the presence of EV-D68 in a region, there is no need for routine testing for this pathogen. It is important to remember that testing for EV-D68 will not change the treatment an ill child will receive.

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