New respiratory virus on the rise?

Mandy Stickles, Opinion Assistant Editor

Enterovirus EV-D68: a virus that has been reported by the Center for Disease Control (C.D.C) and is causing concern in 12 states: Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, New York and Oklahoma.

Collectively there have been more than 100 cases Enterovirus D68 reported within these states.

The virus is reported to be more significant in young children, primarily ranging from the ages 4-6, but it can vary. The virus begins like any other cold with symptoms including coughing, difficulty breathing, and in some cases a rash, fever, or wheezing.

This particular virus causes predominantly respiratory symptoms, however, specialists are still not sure why this is happening.

At first glance, the name Enterovirus EV-D68 strikes fear into people, particularly in parents with young children. It is common to think the worst when an unknown virus becomes more prevalent to the public eye; however, this virus is nothing new.

It was first discovered in the 1960s , since then there have been few reported cases of the virus.

“There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses causing about 10 to 15 million infections in the United States each year, according to the CDC.”

“They are carried in the intestinal tract and often spread to other parts of the body. The season often hits its peak in September, as summer ends and fall begins,” said Jethro Mullen, writer for CNN Health.

The worrisome thing about this virus is the high number of hospitalizations. The New York Times has recently reported 38 states having confirmed outbreaks of respiratory illnesses and the C.D.C has confirmed 226 cases are of Enterovirus EV-D68.

When the media presents something new and unknown to the public, many drag it out to be more terrifying than it actually is in order to grab attention.

Many recent cases regarding respiratory problems are trying to blame it on Enterovirus EV-D68, yet there have not been any deaths linked to this virus. Children will get better, some faster than others depending on the child’s immune system or if there are other factors to consider, such as asthma.

A four year old student at Yardville Elementary school in Yardville, NJ has recently passed away due to an unidentified respiratory illness.

Nowhere was it reported that it was linked with the Enteroviris EV-D68, yet assumptions will be made because it happened to a young child and it is still unclear of what the child actually died from.

Should elementary schools and day cares be extra cautious? Or is the threat of the virus more media induced rather than something to be overly concerned about?

Trisch Madaya, an assistant child care director at the YMCA day care in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., expressed her feelings on the matter saying there is nothing to fear beyond a common cold — because that’s really all it is. Every year there is something new and every cold a child gets just helps build a stronger immune system.

“It is basically just a bad cold. I would only really start to worry if the health board called and told us to take precautions, which hasn’t happened,” said Madaya.

“We teach the kids to cough into their elbow, wash their hands after using the bathroom, after eating, or anytime we feel it is necessary. We make sure to keep the daycare very clean. Zep is a very reliable and frequently used cleaner in the daycare and used for many different things,” said Madaya.

There will always be something in the world to worry about; however, the Enterovirus EV-D68 seems to be running its course through the season and, like all other common colds, this virus will pass as well.

Taking steps to prevent the virus will help: frequently washing hands with soap and water, disinfecting surface areas that are regularly used and touched, and refraining from sharing beverages, food, or utensils with someone that is sick.