Unusual respiratory virus arrives in Philadelphia

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

    The first confirmed cluster in the state consists of three cases, all in Philadelphia. No further details were released by the state Department of Health Tuesday.

    For many, the symptoms 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 specific treatment or vaccine for the respiratory virus. But people can stop transmission by staying home when sick, and practicing good hygiene, such as coughing into their elbows and washing their hands.

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    “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 has reported cases in a dozen states. New Jersey and Delaware are not on that list, although the First State has sent 12 samples from children hospitalized for respiratory viral infections to the CDC for testing.

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