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San Diego County Sees First Enterovirus D68 Cases In California

A respiratory illness afflicting children across the U.S. this summer has reached California, with the state's first four cases in San Diego County, state and local health officials reported Thursday.

Enterovirus D68 respiratory infection afflicted three kids earlier this month who live in the region and a fourth child who was visiting, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency.

The patients, ages 2-13, were treated at Rady Children's Hospital and are recovering, county health reported.


Additional samples from San Diego patients are being tested currently at the California Department of Public Health Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory.

"We may learn of more cases in San Diego, but overall countywide respiratory illnesses have not increased significantly in the community," Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer, said. "We are monitoring this closely with our local health care providers."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the illness also known as EV-D68 has been identified as causing cases of severe respiratory illness across 16 states since mid-August. Most of the illnesses have occurred in young children, and many have reported a history of asthma.

"Rady Children's began seeing a steady rise in the number of children coming to the hospital with respiratory conditions in mid-August, and the numbers continue to increase," said Dr. John Bradley, pediatric infectious disease specialist at the hospital. "However, for most children, EV-D68 is experienced as a common cold, so a trip to the emergency department is generally not necessary unless the child has difficulty breathing or an unusually high fever."

Health officials say there are more than 100 types of enteroviruses that commonly cause respiratory illnesses, while EV-D68 is a less-common type.


The HHSA said most people infected with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms of the common cold. Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.

"There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections other than management of symptoms, which is why it is important to take steps to protect yourself and others from respiratory infections such as enterovirus," Dr. Wooten said.

The HHSA suggested taking measures similar to trying to avoid the flu, like washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; not kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick; and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

Some enterovirus infections, however, can be serious and lead to respiratory illness requiring hospitalization and neurologic illnesses, such as aseptic meningitis — swelling of the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord, and encephalitis — swelling of the brain. Infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become sick.

Most enterovirus infections in the United States occur seasonally during the summer and fall.