NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Health officials in the Tri-State area are urging parents and health care providers to look out for signs and symptoms of a respiratory illness that has shown up in children in a dozen states.

Officials said Wednesday that a New York City child and a Long Island elementary school student have been diagnosed with enterovirus 68. Cases of the virus have also been confirmed in New Jersey and Connecticut.

Officials say the Long Island patient is recovering at home in North Hempstead.

Parents in Westchester County can breathe a sigh of relief as Westchester Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Sherlita Amler said there are no confirmed cases of Enterovirus D-68 there.

The New Jersey Health Department says the child, who has not been identified by age, town or name, has improved and been discharged. It is the first-ever enterovirus D68 case in the state.

Connecticut also confirmed its first case of the illness Wednesday. Dr. Karen Santucci of Yale-New Haven Hospital’s children’s emergency department said a 6-year-old girl was treated there last week and discharged.

Other hospitals in Connecticut have suspected cases of enterovirus D68 and are awaiting test results.

Doctors also suspect a handful of children who are recovering at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center were stricken with the virus.

Dr. Amler told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell that although the virus has been getting a lot of attention, parents should be more concerned about the flu.

Last week, New York State’s Health Department said there are confirmed cases of the virus in central New York and in the Albany area.

According to the CDC, there have been 140 lab-confirmed cases in 16 states. No deaths have been reported.

The virus is spread through contact with an infected person or via contaminated surfaces.

Doctors say that unlike other viruses, this strain may first appear as a common cold but could lead to an  infection much more severe.

“It can cause more severe respiratory disease, particularly in children,” said Dr. Sheila Nolan of Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital. “Severe wheezing, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath requiring oxygen to maintain their oxygen saturation.”

Asthmatic children have been especially vulnerable.

Doctors say children should wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, disinfect regularly and avoid sharing cups and utensils.

“Not touching hands to your mucus membranes, your eyes, your nose, your mouth,” said Nolan “Those are the keys to prevent it.”

There are no specific treatments for the virus, so doctors say if you have a child who is sick, with even just a cold, it’s best to keep them home from school to protect them and their classmates who may be susceptible.

For more information about the virus, click here.

Check Out These Other Stories From
[display-posts category=”news” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”4″]

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


Leave a Reply