Unusual respiratory virus arrives in Philadelphia, New Jersey

     In children with asthma and other underlying breathing problems, enterovirus D68 can require hospitalization and even intensive critical care.(<a href=Photo via ShutterStock) " title="shutterstock_174163574" width="640" height="360"/>

    In children with asthma and other underlying breathing problems, enterovirus D68 can require hospitalization and even intensive critical care.(Photo via ShutterStock)

    A rare strain of enterovirus that first sickened children in Missouri back in August has reached Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

    The first confirmed cluster of enterovirus D68 in Pennsylvania consists of three cases, all treated at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. A fourth patient treated at CHOP is a resident of New Jersey; it’s the first case in the neighboring state. The four children have recovered and were released after two to six days of admission, a hospital official said.

    For many, the symptoms of the respiratory virus are minor and mimic those of the common cold — runny nose, fever, and coughing. But, especially in children with asthma and other underlying breathing problems, enterovirus D68 can require hospitalization and even intensive critical care.

    Awele Maduka-Ezeh of the Delaware Division of Public Health said there is no vaccine or specific treatment beyond supportive care. But people can stop transmission by staying home when sick, and practicing good hygiene, such as coughing into their elbows and washing their hands.

    “With this particular virus, we are saying people should wash with soap and water because we do know that enteroviruses are not gotten rid of by your regular hand sanitizer,” she said.

    As of Tuesday, the CDC reported cases in a dozen states. The tally comes to 13 with the addition of the New Jersey child who was treated in Philadelphia. So far, Delaware does not have any confirmed cases, although health officials there have sent 12 samples from children hospitalized for respiratory viral infections to the CDC for testing.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.