Enterovirus spreads to Bay Area kids

Five cases of a rare enterovirus infection have been reported in the Bay Area and four of those patients are children. Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, is a viral infection circulating widely in the United States.

EV-D68 has been diagnosed in a number of California counties, including two cases in Alameda County and one each in San Francisco, Santa Cruz and Solano counties, according to the state health department.

A juvenile diagnosed with the infection last month has been discharged from an out-of-county hospital in good condition, the San Francisco Department of Public Health announced today. The juvenile was admitted to an out-of-county hospital for two days in mid-September before being discharged in good condition.

Dr. Cora Hoover, Director of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention for the San Francisco Department of Public Health said EV-D68 usually causes mild symptoms similar to a cold or flu. Hoover said that occasionally, EV-D68 can cause severe respiratory symptoms, especially in children with a history of asthma.

EV-D68 was discovered in the 1960s and is one of about 100 enterovirus types, according to the health department. Erica Pan, Alameda County’s director of communicable disease control and planning, said on Thursday that two children were confirmed to have the virus, the first cases in Northern California.

Another case was reported on Thursday in Solano County in which a child suffered mild symptoms and did not require treatment at a hospital, county health officials said Thursday. State health officials also confirmed a case in Santa Cruz County today and no further details were released on the patient.

Across the U.S., there are more than 500 reported cases of the virus in 43 states between mid-August and today, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While there is no vaccine for EV-D68 and no specific treatment, the resulting breathing problems can be treated. To prevent transmission of the virus, public health officials encourage everyone to be vigilant about washing their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.

Additionally, to avoid transmission, people should avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, should be disinfected, especially if someone is sick, according to public health officials.

If someone is sick, they are advised to cover their cough or sneeze and stay home from work or school so as not to spread the virus. Kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick is also not advisable, according to public health officials.