Summit doctors give parents advice about enterovirus D68
Few children in Summit have been affected by the virus strain that has hospitalized hundreds of kids around the Midwest in the last couple weeks. Local clinics, however, have been fielding calls about enterovirus D68 from concerned parents.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, enterovirus D68 is an uncommon strain of a common family of viruses that typically hit from summer through autumn. The virus can cause mild cold-like symptoms and can lead to serious breathing problems, especially for children with asthma.
High Country Healthcare family practice doctor Elizabeth Winfield said Thursday, Sept. 11, that she saw two young patients recently who may have had the virus, while pediatrician Adam Loomis said he hadn’t seen any evidence that the virus had made its way to Summit County.
Pediatrician Christine Ebert-Santos said she has seen a normal amount of children with coughs, colds and respiratory issues. The virus could be affecting Summit children and doctors might not know, she said, because for every case diagnosed, probably 100 milder cases go undiagnosed.
Physicians who suspect a patient has the virus have to order a special test from the health department to confirm that suspicion, which doesn’t affect treatment of the child, Ebert-Santos said.
Doctors say most healthy children will recover from the virus on their own, but parents should pay special attention to children with asthma or other conditions that affect breathing or lung function.
Fewer kids have asthma in Summit than on the Front Range because of less pollution, Loomis said. However, children who experience respiratory issues in the High Country are more likely to need oxygen treatment. He advised parents to make sure kids with asthma are taking their daily medication.
What has caused some kids to be hospitalized is likely a buildup of mucus that can’t be managed at home, Winfield said, and infants are more susceptible.
“When your airway is the size of a cocktail straw,” she said, “it doesn’t take a lot of mucus to really compromise it.”
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. People can avoid picking up or spreading the virus with typical cold prevention techniques like coughing into the elbow.
“Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands,” Winfield said, adding that people should try not to touch their faces.
If parents are worried or notice their child developing symptoms that don’t go away after use of prescribed inhalers, they should call or visit their child’s doctor or a clinic.
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