Healthy Choices

State briefing on enterovirus confirms no Sacramento cases; Solano child infected

California public health officials Friday confirmed 14 cases statewide of enterovirus D68, including a child in Solano County.

Enterovirus D68, which typically causes a respiratory infection, has affected 538 people in 43 states since August, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Almost all the victims have been children.

There are no confirmed cases in Sacramento County, according to county health officials. No deaths have been reported due to EV-D68 in California.

Dr. Gil Chavez, deputy director of the Center for Infectious Diseases with the California Department of Public Health, said the state does not typically track enterovirus, but after news of the national outbreak, specimens were solicited from hospitals where children were in the intensive-care unit with unexplained respiratory disorders.

“We know in years past we haven’t had any outbreaks of 68 identified here or elsewhere,” he said. “We’ve never seen it to the extent it’s been reported this year. That’s what prompted us to ask for specimens.”

The state has collected more than 180 specimens from young patients suffering from respiratory illness across the state. Of those, 140 are in testing, including the 14 that have been confirmed with EV-D68.

Kate McAuley, coordinator of the communicable disease and immunization program for Sacramento County, said four specimens have been sent from the county to the state for enterovirus testing. All four came from patients under 18 who were recently hospitalized.

“We are watching the situation closely,” she said. “ But there’s nothing that links these cases together.”

Enterovirus circulates every year, mostly in the summer and fall. Small numbers of the EV-D68 type of enterovirus have been regularly reported to the CDC since 1987. It is spread through coughs and sneezes or touching surfaces that have been touched by others with the virus.

A Solano County public health officer said Thursday that a school-age child in that county had come down with the virus.

“The child suffered from mild symptoms and was not hospitalized,” said Dr. Bela Matyas, Solano County’s health officer.

Infants, children and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enterovirus and become ill since they have not built up immunity from previous exposure, according to the CDC. There are no vaccines for preventing EV-D68.

Adults typically experience mild symptoms.

EV-D68 can be diagnosed only with lab tests. There is no specific treatment for respiratory illness caused by the virus. For mild cases, over-the-counter medications for pain and fever are recommended. However, some people experience severe breathing problems and must be hospitalized.

“One thing we need to remember is that for every case of enterovirus infection that is hospitalized, there are many cases we know that have milder infections,” Chavez said. “It’s important for people to put in perspective that though some kids unfortunately end up hospitalized, the majority of kids will be OK.”

Dr. James Watt, chief of the Division of Communicable Disease Control of the California Department of Public Health, said the hospitalized patients typically do well and are able to return home.

“The best thing to do when it comes to protecting yourself and your loved ones is to follow the best practices associated with avoiding the common cold and flu,” said Dr. Michael Stacey, Solano County’s deputy health officer, in a news release. “Wash your hands often with soap and water, avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick. Disinfect frequently used surfaces, including doorknobs, remote controls and toys, especially if someone is sick.”