By Mary Drier
LANSING — It’s here…
The Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratory confirmed specimens submitted by the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) tested positive for enterovirus D68 (EV-D68).
“Michigan Department of Public Health (MDCH) along with Tuscola County Health Department continue to monitor for the EV-D68,” said Tuscola County Health Department Health Officer Gretchen Tenbusch. “As of Sept. 25, MDCH reported that there two cases of confirmed EV-D68 in Tuscola County.
“There are no further details on the ages, sex, or school districts at this time. “
Tuscola County Health Department Nursing Administrator Ann Hepfer, R.N. B.S., contacted the Advertiser earlier this month to say that the MDCH was investigating illnesses that could be D68; and that there were no confirmed cases at that point in Michigan. But, now there is.
“The State of Michigan has put protocols in place for testing and those have been shared with our local hospitals and physicians,” said Tenbusch.
“Symptoms of the illness have been reported to cause mild to severe respiratory illness.”
Transmission is thought to occur much like the common cold virus by person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces.
“There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections. Many infections will be mild and self-limited, requiring only treatment of the symptoms,” said Hepfer. “Some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy.
“No antiviral medications are currently available for treating of EV-D68 infections.”
State health officials are working with hospitals and local health departments to investigate the cases. Based on the increase seen across the state, this is the first set of positive cases and Michigan expects confirmation of additional cases.
Michigan has seen an increase in severe respiratory illness in children across the state, and the department is working with the CDC, Michigan local health departments and hospitals to monitor the increase, noted Hepfer explaining that there are many strains of enterovirus.
Enteroviruses are very common viruses. There are more than 100 types. It is estimated that 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year. Symptoms of EV-D68 infection can include wheezing, difficulty breathing, fever and racing heart rate.
Most people infected with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious requiring hospitalization. Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.
Health officials warn youths with asthma may be at an increased risk of severe complications and are encouraged to be vigilant in taking their asthma controlling medications. Further, Michiganders can protect themselves from enterovirus by taking general hygiene precautions: Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers. Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
Nationally, clusters of EV-D68 infections have impacted the pediatric population in multiple states. Since mid-August, people from 19 states were confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.
Mary Drier is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at [email protected]