A rare, potentially severe respiratory virus that has sickened children in more than a dozen states has surfaced in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, health officials said late on Wednesday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed three new cases of enterovirus EV-D68 in the tri-state area.
• In Connecticut, 6-year-old girl was treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital last week and released. The Connecticut Department of Public Health said there are suspected cases at four other Connecticut hospitals.
• In New Jersey, health officials said a child who had been hospitalized in Philadelphia was confirmed to have the virus.
• In New York, one of the 12 confirmed cases of the virus previously confirmed in the state is in New York City, NBC News reported. And on Lond Island, a girl was hospitalized earlier in the month and is now recovering at home, the Nassau County Health Department said.
According to the CDC, a total of 140 people in 16 states (Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Virginia) have been confirmed to have the respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.
There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses, which cause mild cold-like symptoms for up to 15 million people in the U.S. each year. But this particular strain of the virus, first identified in California in 1962, can be severe, the CDC said.
Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body and muscle aches, while those who have been hospitalized have had difficulty breathing.
Infants and children are at particular risk, because they do not yet have immunity from previous exposures to the viruses, the CDC said, noting that in Missouri and Illinois, children with asthma seemed to have a higher risk of coming down with the respiratory illness.
There is no specific treatment for people with EV-D68 and no vaccine to prevent it.
To protect yourself and your children, the CDC recommends the following:
• Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
• Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
"We want parents, especially if they know their children are prone to asthma, if they get a common cold, watch it closely," Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein told WABC-TV. "If there's any sign of wheezing ... they should reach out to their medical provider."