First enterovirus case confirmed in Maryland

Child tests positive for respiratory illness crossing the country

September 24, 2014|By Meredith Cohn | The Baltimore Sun

Maryland health officials confirmed Wednesday the first case of enterovirus D68, a somewhat rare type of respiratory infection that has been sweeping the country and largely sickening children with asthma and underlying health conditions.

Doctors in Maryland had expected cases, though most were expected to be minor, or the equivalent of a cold that would not require medical attention. Serious cases can cause breathing problems for children.

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said the specimen was collected from a hospitalized child and sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for testing. No other details of the case were provided.

"Now that this virus is known to be in Maryland, it is important that we all take reasonable steps to limit its spread and control its impact," said state Health Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein.

State health officials recommend that families take preventive steps that include regular hand washing with soap and water; keeping special tabs on children with asthma; watching for wheezing and other respiratory ailments in children; keeping sick children home; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; coughing and sneezing into a tissue or sleeve; avoiding close contact with those who are sick; and keeping current on vaccines.

There is no vaccine or special treatment for enterovirus, but flu vaccine can prevent other respiratory illness.

Public health officials plan to try to track the enterovirus, though they aren't likely to know about most cases because the CDC only recommends testing for those severely ill.

The CDC reports that from mid-August through Wednesday that 220 people in 32 states have been confirmed to have this type of enterovirus. The data does not reflect the Maryland case.

mcohn@baltsun.com

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