By Sarah Mansheim
One case of a dangerous strain of enterovirus has been confirmed in Greenbrier County. On Monday, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources announced that enterovirus EV-D68, a respiratory virus, was present in four specimens sent to the Centers for Disease Control from across the state. Specimens were sent to the CDC from Calhoun, Greenbrier, Kanawha, Lincoln, Logan, Mercer, Raleigh, Wirt and Wood counties for testing. According to a press release from the DHHR, four cases of EV-D68 were confirmed. Toby D. Wagoner, public information officer for the DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health, identified that one of the cases was from Greenbrier County.
According to Dr. Loretta Haddy, state epidemiologist and director of epidemiology and prevention services for the state of West Virginia, four children in three hospitals tested positive for EV-D68, and more specimens have been submitted to the CDC for testing.
Haddy said the enterovirus is common during the late summer-to-early fall months. EV-D68 is less common she said, and its presence in the state is troubling.
“EV-D68 is being seen more than we’d like right now,” she said. The respiratory illness can present with wheezing and difficulty breathing, although Haddy said many people who are infected with the virus don’t have any symptoms.
The virus becomes especially dangerous among individuals, especially children, who have asthma. Haddy advised that anyone experiencing wheezing or difficulty breathing seek medical care, especially, she said, if they have asthma.
Meanwhile, she said, common sense precautions can help prevent the spread of the virus. Those include frequent hand washings for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers, disinfecting frequently used surfaces such as doorknobs, avoiding touching the face, avoiding kissing and hugging anyone who is sick, coughing and sneezing into the elbow, immediately discarding used tissues, and staying home from school or work when sick.
Asthma patients should regularly take their medications to maintain control of their illness, she said. Haddy also recommended that everyone get a flu shot. While there is no vaccine for enterovirus, a flu shot can help maintain respiratory health, she said.