While most of the country — and the media — is absorbed with the Ebola epidemic, it is the enterovirus-D68 that presents much more of a danger, especially to those of us in Denver, Colorado. Although experts do not know why Colorado appears to be the focus of this incredibly virulent strain of the enterovirus, the numbers speak for themselves: from August through September 29, 2014, Children’s Hospital Colorado saw 4,021 children with severe respiratory illness, and of those children, approximately 10 percent or 400 were admitted to the hospital.
Your Denver medical malpractice attorney knows that while enteroviruses are common and seen yearly, this particular strain — EV-D68 — is not. Yet, 12 states have now reported clusters of laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus to the CDC. Many of those infected present with symptoms that are consistent with a bad cold, and for many, that is all that they experience. But for children with underlying respiratory conditions such as asthma, cystic fibrosis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), getting sick with EV-D68 can turn into a stay in the intensive care unit where breathing assistance is available.
Some of these more susceptible children have had to be rushed — even life-flighted — to the hospital where they are put on ventilators and kept in the intensive care unit until they can breathe on their own or with minimal assistance. Hospital Emergency Departments report running low on Albuterol, an emergency or rescue medication for asthma sufferers that helps to open airways and can also be used to help a variety of breathing problems.
Even more alarming than the respiratory complications is the emergence of a small cluster of polio-like paralysis cases appearing in children affected with EV-D68. These children have muscle weakness or paralysis in an arm or leg, or have difficulty with movement or standing. Some of these children are currently in physical therapy. Doctors do not know their prognosis, and although a link between EV-D68 is suspected, it is not yet proven that the virus caused the paralysis. All children with this troubling new phenomenon tested negative for the other two viruses capable of producing these symptoms: polio and the West Nile virus. The only thing known definitively about these cases is that the afflicted children all have spots or lesions in the gray matter of their spinal cord, as shown on MRI scans.
What Can Be Done to Fight EV-D68?
What can be done to prevent further spread of EV-D68? Unfortunately, the virus targets children, and children are amazingly good at spreading infections. That being said, your Denver medical malpractice attorney suggests the following precautions be taken:
(1) Wash your hands often with soap and water.
(2) Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
(3) Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups and utensils with people who are sick.
(4) Frequently disinfect surfaces that are touched often, including toys, doorknobs, counters, appliance handles, TV remote, etc.
(5) Stay home when you feel sick.
If you have questions regarding the EV-D68 outbreak, contact state health officials, or call Jordan Levine at Levine Law as soon as possible.