Enterovirus-D68 hitting states surrounding Arkansas - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Enterovirus-D68 hitting states surrounding Arkansas

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - A rare respiratory virus in the MidSouth has many parents concerned tonight. Not only are there no specific treatments for the virus, but no vaccines either.

More and more states are contacting the Centers for Disease Control about Enterovirus-D68. While it's yet to reach the Natural State, states surrounding Arkansas are beginning to see the illness.

Often called the "summer cold," enteroviruses are fairly common. With more than 100 types of enterovirus, the CDC estimates there are 10-15 million virus infections each year in the US.

However, the strain currently hospitalizing kids in the mid-south, Enterovirus-D68, is causing concern.

"It's actually rarely reported in the United States. There were only 79 cases reported to the CDC from 2009-2013," Melissa Green, Manager of Infection Prevention at NEA Baptist Hospital told Region 8 News.

Over the last few months, there have already been hundreds of cases reported in Missouri and Colorado and more states are contacting the CDC about possible clusters of the virus.

"Certainly it's more of a risk for children who have underlying respiratory illnesses such as asthma and severe asthma," Green said.

While no cases of Enterovirus-D68 have been confirmed or even reported in Arkansas, September is the peak season for spreading enteroviruses.

"With school starting back up and everybody handling each other's things, if we don't have supervised hand hygiene, make sure people are taking care of that then it can easily be spread from one child to the other."

As there is no vaccine or specific treatment for Enterovirus-D68, Green says it's imperative to practice good hygiene.

"Viruses usually play out on their own. You just have to give supportive measures. If they've got a temperature, treat that. If they've got congestion, treat that."

The CDC states that Enterovirus-D68 is not considered to be a fatal illness.

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