Enterovirus D68 spreads to 12 states: 9-year-old hospitalized in Grand Rapids from respiratory illness

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Children across the country are fighting mild to severe respiratory illness brought on by Enterovirus. As of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 130 people in 12 states have Enterovirus D68, an uncommon strain of the virus.

According to the CDC, September is the middle of Enterovirus season, as they test hospital samples of suspected D68 to determine if the strain has hit Michigan. Now doctors and families wait for these test results, including Brandi Glaske, whose nine-year-old daughter is hospitalized from a serious respiratory illness.

“She’s my girl that never stops, so this has been really hard for her,” said Glaske. “She’s been really brave, but she’s had a few meltdowns where the tears started rolling, she’s just had enough.”

Since Sunday, Glaske’s daughter, Kira, has been in and out of the pediatric ICU at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital for asthma complications from a respiratory virus. Glaske told FOX 17 that Kira was diagnosed with asthma when she was four-years-old, and she always carries an inhaler. But Glaske said these complications came on fast.

“If you have a child with asthma, and you know what to expect, this virus is a lot different,” said Glaske. “The fact that it hit her so quickly was a lot different for us. She had a really mild cold, Friday she stayed home from school, and then by Sunday she was in the hospital.”

As of Tuesday, the CDC has not confirmed Enterovirus D68 to be in Michigan, but they are testing samples from across the state. Health officials said the virus is common with more than 100 strains, but strain D68 is rare.

Mostly affecting infants, children, and teens, D68 can be severe for children with asthma; however, there is no vaccine and no treatment.

“The way we treat Enterovirus is really just waiting it out,” said Dr. Rosemary Olivero, pediatric infectious disease M.D. “Antibiotics don’t work against viruses, so there is no specific treatment for that. There are some antivirals out there, but none of which have activity against Enterovirus.”

Dr. Olivero told FOX 17 that D68 is highly contagious, and spreads through saliva and mucus. Using common sense will protect you, and Dr. Olivero said it is important to wash your hands, disinfect surfaces, stay home if you are sick, and do not share food and drinks.

Glaske believed her daughter may have gotten sick at school. For now she said Kira is doing better and using a breathing mask less. The Glaske’s hope to be home in the next few days.

“She’s doing really good,” said Glaske. “We’re just ready to go home, get her better and go home.”

Doctors also said children without asthma in nearby states have gone into the hospital showing asthmatic signs like wheezing and coughing. Doctors remind parents that it is very important for children with inhalers to carry their inhaler with them at all times.

Enterovirus D68 is not a reportable illness health officials said, meaning it is difficult to determine the exact number of cases.

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