Saturday, September 13, 2014

Enterovirus 68

There's this viral respiratory illness that has been spreading across the Midwest over the past few weeks: enterovirus 68. It's been in the news. Maybe you've read about it. It showed up in the Denver metro area about mid-August. It's similar to a basic cold virus except it can cause sudden problems with breathing. It seems to mostly affect children. Kids with asthma are most vulnerable. As of last week, Children's Hospital Colorado was seeing 100 new cases per day.

I'm mother to a girl who has asthma. Cold viruses are her trigger. Most people have a sore throat and stuffy nose for a few days. My daughter gets fever, vomiting and asthma attacks, and is out of school for a day or two. Twice this year her colds have resulted in pneumonia.

This viral outbreak has put me on red alert.

My husband and I can't keep our kids away from the virus if it spreads in their school or some other place we frequent, but there are preventative measures we can take. We're not the most vigilant of hand-washers in my household, but we're working to change that. And the kids have been told to keep their distance from sick classmates.

It might be that the household red alert isn't necessary. My daughter caught a cold in mid-August, after the virus started spreading but before the news came out about the local outbreak. The cold went from bad to really bad in about 12 hours. I've never been so fast to get her to the pediatrician, and I'm glad I did, because her doctor caught a developing case of pneumonia. Around the same time, two of her cousins with whom she has frequent contact (i.e. they play together a lot) came down with what my sister is pretty certain was enterovirus 68.

All of this is to say, she might have already had it. But I'm not taking chances with a virus that has been putting kids -- especially asthmatic kids -- in the hospital. Here's hoping the children who are sick recover soon and that the outbreak runs its course without causing many more infections.

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