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Enterovirus D68 case confirmed

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Dr. Charles Huskins, Mayo Clinic
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A virus affecting mostly kids that causes cold-like symptoms and has sent hundreds of children to hospitals in other states has been confirmed in Rochester.

A Mayo Clinic official told the Post-Bulletin exclusively Friday that Mayo in Rochester has had one positive case of enterovirus D68.

"We know enterovirus is in our community, though most patients do not require hospitalization," says information from Dr. Charles Huskins, a pediatric infectious disease expert.

Many people, including adults, can get the illness with mild symptoms and with little effect on overall health, aside from runny nose, sleepiness, watery eyes and sneezes.

However, especially in kids with asthma and other previously existing respiratory conditions, serious complications can occur.

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The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the CDC has confirmation of four deaths among individuals who tested positive for enterovirus D68. But it remains unclear if enterovirus D68 played a role in the deaths, which could have been caused by other ailments.

For example, a 10-year-old girl who died in Rhode Island hadStaphylococcus aureus, which "the state's Department of Health officially blamed her death on," the Journal says .

In Minnesota and the Rochester region, "parents should monitor their children for respiratory symptoms and seek care, as they would usually, if their child appears to have more than a minor illness," Huskins said, "especially if the child has difficulty breathing or a history of asthma or other chronic condition affecting the heart or lungs."

There are many types of enterovirus blamed for everything from diarrhea to respiratory ailments like the one caused by the D68 strain. It was an enterovirus responsible for the outbreaks of polio that only ended in the U.S. once vaccine became available.

Many have tagged D68 "non-polio enterovirus D68." But the it has raised eyebrows by causing "polio-like" symptoms in a small number of children children, according to media reports.

Huskins said there is no vaccine or medication to prevent or treat enterovirus infection.

"But children can be treated with supportive care, including oxygen, breathing treatments and fluids as needed," he said.

Both adults with asthma and kids with lung diseases should check with their health provider and update their asthma action plant, Huskins said, citing CDC recommendations.

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• Take asthma medicine as directed, especially long-term control medicines and "keep your reliever medication with you."

• Get vaccinated against influenza.

• Follow the steps in your asthma action plan if you develop new or worsening symptoms. If symptoms do not go away, "call your doctor right away."

Huskins said parents should make sure each child's school professional is aware of the student's medical condition "and that they know how to help if the child experiences any symptoms related to asthma."

Prevent spread of enterovirus, he said, by covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, washing hands with soap and water after handling tissues or respiratory secretions, after contact with someone who is ill, after changing diapers, after touching surfaces in public areas, before preparing food or eating and after helping your child use the bathroom

"Parents and children should avoid contact with people who are ill," Huskins urged. "If your child is ill, he or she should stay home and avoid contact with other people until the illness resolves."

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