Health Officials Probe Possible Links of EV-D68 to Death, Paralysis


Less than 24 hours after Idaho health officials confirmed that enterovirus D68—or EV-D68—had spread to the Gem State, national health officials are now investigating the possibility of the first death linked to the virus.

A New Jersey preschooler has died from a respiratory illness and that school has been ordered to be completely sanitized. Meanwhile, Colorado health officials are investigating whether EV-D68 is linked to muscular weakness and even paralysis in nine children in the Denver area. Four of the nine were confirmed to have the virus.

On Thursday, Sept. 25, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare confirmed that a child in Eastern Idaho tested positive for the virus, resulting in hospitalization. The child has since been released from the hospital. Additionally, elevated levels of respiratory illnesses have been identified in Southwest Idaho and in the Idaho Falls area.

To date, at least 30 states have reported EV-D68 this fall.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say children ages 6 months to 16 years are most susceptible and a lot of children with a history of breathing problems have been hit particularly hard.

And because it's a virus, EV-D68 isn't battled with antibiotics, and that's what is leading to so many hospitalizations. Experts say the virus can live in germs on common household surfaces for hours and as long as a day.

EV-D68 can only be diagnosed through specific lab tests on specimens from the nose or throat.

The public is urged to regularly wash hands, avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick, and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as toys and doorknobs.