The Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, a rare type of the Human Enterovirus, has sent children all over the nation to the emergency room since the second week of August. The virus first affected children within Midwest and Southeast regions of the United States, and health officials warn the virus is now spreading into the Northeast US. As news of EV-D68 travels, the CDC announces the first fatality in connection with the illness.
While sources have yet to release much information regarding the EV-D68 death, we do know the victim was a child, under the age of ten, who may not have received timely emergency medical treatment for the illness. Untreated, the virus can lead to the development of Pneumonia, and in worst cases, complete respiratory failure, causing death.
The child was reportedly a resident of the state of Alabama, where emergency departments across the state were flooded with cases of children with the virus. It is not yet known if the child died while waiting for medical treatment, or if the child’s parents failed to seek medical services in time. The Alabama State office of Child Protective Services (DHRCPS) will be investigating the child’s death.
The virus is widely unpredictable, and is said to have more harmful effects on children with pre-existing breathing issues, such as asthma or allergies. It is extremely hard to track, as hospitals and health officials do not keep record of this type of the virus. Hospitals typically do not test for specific types of the Human Enterovirus, as many currently exist.
Enteroviruses present themselves like the average common cold. Symptoms include coughing, sneezing, and a runny nose. Most patients recover without medical intervention, however, the EV-D68 has already hospitalized more patients in the last month than health officials have expected. The CDC estimates up to 15 million people in the US are affected by Enteroviruses each year, and admits the EV-D68 is causing more serious problems this year than any EV-type disease has in the past.
“While it is very important to remember that the Enterovirus is common, this type of the virus is not,” says Dr. Matthew Montgomery, WIT. “EV-D68 is a rare type of the Enterovirus, and all parents should be educated on its severity. One child has already died, we need to prevent more fatalities from happening.”
As the Enterovirus D68 has claimed the life of an innocent child, the most important thing for parents to do is make sure their child receives immediate emergency medical treatment if they exhibit any symptoms of a cold. Remember, there is no specific treatment or vaccination for this virus available at this time.