Chattanooga Doctors Warn Parents of the EnteroVirus D-68 Strain - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga doctors warn parents of the EnteroVirus D-68 strain

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN (WRCB) -

A rare virus popping up in several states has sent more than a thousand children to the doctor and at this time, there is no sign of slowing down. Experts know what it is -- but not why there's an outbreak.

The Enterovirus D-68 is a "cousin" of the common cold with symptoms such as fever, body aches, and coughing.
Many children have become so sick, they've been moved into intensive care. Doctors say children who suffer from asthma are most at risk.

So far there have been no deaths associated with the Enterovirus strand D-68 but doctors say that doesn't mean it cant be fatal. With cases being reported in Georgia, Kentucky and surrounding Tennessee states, physicians here are asking parents to watch their children closely for symptoms..

"Certainly anytime an illness impacts our breathing and causes severe issues with breathing could potentially result in death," said Margaret Zylstra, Epidemiologist Manager with Hamilton County Health Dept.

Tennessee Health Department officials say so far there haven't been any cases linked to the Enterovirus Strand D-68. Doctor Mark Rowin with Erlanger Children's Hospital tells channel 3, it's just a matter of time until the virus reaches tennessee.

"This June, July and August have been the busiest months ever here in the Pediatrics Intensive Care Unit here at Erlanger.

So far, no Tennessee cases have been linked... to the highly contagious Enterovirus strand D-68

"It will end up in Tennessee...today or tomorrow next week we will se this virus," said Doctor Rowin.

Health experts say first symptoms look like a common cold with runny nose and trouble breathing. What makes this particular strand of the Enterovirus unique is that 80-percent never run a fever.

"If there is unusual severe symptoms of a cold, it seems to get worse and worse and certainly if it's combined with difficultly breathing those are the times to see urgent medical care," said Zylstra. "

According to the CDC there is not a vaccine, the virus has to run its course, doctors say they can only treat the symptoms.

"Since there are no antibiotics treatments or medications to help this, prevention is the key word here," said Dr. Rowin. "If your child looks acutely ill, looks like they are having a hard time breaking for whatever reason bring the into the emergency room"

Doctor Rowin says the Children's Hospital at Erlanger has seen an increase in cases across the board including respiratory infection. If a child needs to be tested for this Enterovirus strain D- 68, doctors say lab results will have to be sent to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Center in Atlanta to be identified.

HOW DOES EV-D 68 SPREAD:

-Sneezing, coughing, and close personal contact- it is very easily transmissible and appears to spread through close contact with infected people--much like other types of Enterovirus.

-The new school year is likely helping the virus be transmitted since children are together for long periods of time at school.

WHERE ARE WE SEEING CASES:

-The CDC is working to investigate clusters reported from 12 different states--a recent report out from the CDC provides detail on clusters identified in Kansas City, Missouri and Chicago, Illinois.

HOW TO REDUCE THE RISK OF INFECTION:

- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers;

-Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys an doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

- Stay at home when feeling sick and obtain consultation from your Health Care provider.

- This time of year is also the onset of Flu Season, ask your doctor about getting the flu vaccine.

- If your child is experiencing cold like symptoms with trouble breathing seek medical help immediately.

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