The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) reported Tuesday that four children tested positive for enterovirus D68 (or EV68), a strain of illness that has been spreading through the nation recently.
"The virus people have been talking about, EV68, is circulating in the Philadelphia region," confirmed Dr. Susan Coffin, of CHOP's Infectious Disease Department. "It does not appear to be different or more serious than other respiratory infections."
The state Department of Health also released a statement on the spread of the virus, which has reportedly afflicted hundreds of kids in the midwest, to Pennsylvania.
“The department is working with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on this particular cluster and will continue to monitor the situation closely statewide, as we have been since cases have increased rapidly across the country in recent weeks,” said Pennsylvania physician General Dr. Carrie DeLone. “Parents should be vigilant and aware of signs and symptoms, but it’s also important to know that there are other respiratory illnesses that are circulating and the best course of action if you’re unsure is to talk with your healthcare provider.”
In Kansas City alone, 300 children caught the virus, reports say, and other mid-western states have seen spikes of infection as well.
But Dr. Coffin said Philadelphians should not be unduly afraid of the virus, which she said was similar to the common cold.
"I really don't know of any data to suggest that it's more contagious than any other virus," Coffin said. "Here in Philadelphia, we know this virus has been in circulation in past years; it's not actually a new virus. On the spectrum of illnesses, it is not distinct from other respiratory viruses."
The Philly kids who were treated at CHOP for EV68 all recovered within four to six days, Coffin said.
The disease has now been confirmed in 12 states, includingAlabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York and Oklahoma and Pennsylvania according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since mid-August, the CDC has received reports of 130 people with confirmed cases of the virus, Reuters reported. There is no vaccine, and infants, children and teenagers have the greatest risk of infection. So far, there have been no reported deaths from the illness.
Dr. Coffin and Dr DeLone both said that standard hygienic measures should curb rates of infection, including:
-Frequent hand washing
-Disposing of dirty tissues
-Covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze
-Stay home if you are ill
-Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups, eating utensils, etc. with people who are sick.
-Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.