Doctors at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City are seeing a significant increase in respiratory illness over the past two weeks. They have identified enterovirus D-68 as the likely source of many of these illnesses.
Dr. Andrew Pavia is Chief of Pediatric
Infectious Diseases at Primary Children’s Hospital. In his twenty years
of experience, he says he’s has never seen this many hospitalizations
for a viral disease in September.
“What we’re seeing is an
increase in children with wheezing,” Pavia says. “Some look like they
have severe asthma. Some are sufficiently short of breath that they need
intensive care treatment.”
Dr. Pavia says the hospital has
seen about 100 children with these symptoms over the past 4 weeks. In
response, Primary Children’s has stepped up their staffing and imposed
restrictions on children visiting the hospital. The rapid increase in
disease and the symptoms suggest to him that enterovirus D68 has reached
Utah, but there have been no confirmed cases yet.
that what we’re seeing is very consistent with enterovirsu 68, but we
are waiting for confirmation that it is here,” Pavia says.
staff have sent samples to Centers for Disease Control and hope to have
an answer within two days. Pavia says concerned parents should know
that the majority of children who contract the disease will have only
mild symptoms. Those with asthma may be at risk for more severe
“For most kids, they’re just not going to be sick
enough that they need to be seen at a hospital. Most kids won’t even
need to be seen by a doctor,” Pavia says. “Use common sense. If your
child looks sick enough to be brought into the doctor’s office, that’s
the first step. If they’re really short of breath, that’s when you come
straight to the hospital.”
Doctors say enterovirus is spread
much like the flu, from contact with fluids. But unlike influenza, there
is no vaccine for it. Thousands of children across the country have
contracted the virus over the past 2 months. None have died from it.
Based on trends in other states, Dr. Pavia believes the disease will
likely subside in October.