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Public should take common sense steps to guard against respiratory viruses


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   Connecticut Department of Public Health

September 17, 2014                                                       Contact: William Gerrish

                                                                                        (860) 509-7270


Hartford – The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) today received confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a confirmed case of enterovirus D68 infection (EV-D68) involving a Connecticut child. The child, who was recently hospitalized, has since improved and been discharged.


DPH commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen is advising parents and health care providers to be aware of the symptoms of this respiratory illness. Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Patients who are very ill with EV-D68 have difficulty breathing, and may or may not have fever or wheezing. Many of the children with severe illness caused by this virus have had had asthma or wheezing in the past.


"If your child is sick with a cold and having difficulty breathing, or their symptoms are getting worse, then contact your health care provider right away," said Commissioner Mullen. “If your child has asthma, make sure to follow the care plan your health care provider has already outlined.”


The preventive steps people can take to avoid becoming ill and the treatment are similar to those of most respiratory illnesses like the flu. Good hand hygiene is your best defense against getting infected with enterovirus:


·         Washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers

·         Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

·         Avoiding kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick

·         Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick


Given this confirmed case of illness caused by EV-D68 in Connecticut, reports of similar illnesses involving children at other Connecticut hospitals, and confirmed EV-D68 cases in New York State and New Jersey, it is likely this virus is already causing respiratory illnesses in many places across Connecticut.


DPH is working with health care providers and local health departments to closely monitor for increases in respiratory illnesses in hospitals across the state. Laboratory specimens from patients with respiratory illnesses that could be due to EV-D68 at four other Connecticut hospitals are in the process of being sent to the CDC for confirmatory testing. Health officials said they expect to receive more reports of respiratory illness that may be related to EV-D68.


It is important to keep in mind that other viruses that cause respiratory illness are circulating in the United States during this time of year. Not all clusters or outbreaks of respiratory illness occurring now are due to EV-D68.


Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. In the United States, people are more likely to get infected with enteroviruses in the summer and fall, and EV-D68 infections are likely to decline later in the fall. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral medication for enterovirus infections.


Answers to frequently asked questions about enteroviruses and EV-D68 can be found here.