Many are wondering why more and more American children are getting sick with the enterovirus. Are doctors doing enough to stop the spread?

The New York Times reports on the enterovirus.

The first official victim of the enterovirus is a four year old toddler from New Jersey. 

The toddler’s parents first decided to keep him home from school thinking that he has pink eye. They did not want him to infect other children. Much to their dismay they later found out that their little son had the enterovirus.

What does the virus do? It causes severe respiratory illness and other complications. Physicians and federal health officials are shocked at how fast the virus has spread across the country.

How did this 4 year old die?

What should parents be looking out for exactly?

When he "went to bed on Sept. 24 in his family’s home in Hamilton Township, N.J., he seemed healthy. By morning, he was dead. ‘He was asymptomatic and fine, and the next morning he had passed,’ said Jeffrey Plunkett, the township’s health officer. ‘The onset was very rapid and very sudden.’ More than a week after his death, the federal the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that Eli was infected with enterovirus 68,” according to The New York Times.

Doctors are urging parents to be careful because the symptoms of the enterovirus resemble those of the common cold.

Hundreds of children have been diagnosed with the virus so far. Many parents are frustrated with their doctors who they are saying are doing little to treat the virus. Numerous doctors are saying that they are still trying to understand the virus.

Enterovirus has existed for many years but never spread so fast and so widely before. The spread started in August, with hundreds of children experiencing respiratory illnesses all of a sudden. There are three other children who have also died after contracting the virus, but doctors have not confirmed that the deaths of those children were solely due to the enterovirus yet.

Dr. Jay Varma, the deputy commissioner for disease control for the New York City Department of Health told CBS,

“This is one of many viruses that can cause respiratory illness in children,” he said. “We do know that this virus tends to cause more severe illness with children who have an underlying condition like asthma. We don’t know why it has become more common this year. It is scientifically plausible that the virus is associated with the cases of paralysis.” He also noted that polio is an enterovirus.

Why isn’t New York City taking a more active approach in testing for the virus? City health officials say that this would not help in the effort to prevent the spread of the virus in the city.

What guidelines have been put in place?

The city requires that a child who is sick be kept home from school, and that if the child has a fever they must wait until at least a day after the fever subsides to return the child to school. Experts are particularly urging parents of children with asthma to be on extra high alert.

What are some defenses?

Federal health officials are suggesting that people frequently wash their hands, particularly children and school personnel. Dr. Tan, the chief epidemiologist at the New Jersey Department of Health, said, “While enterovirus 68 has been diagnosed in nine children in the state, a number that will likely rise.”

The school the boy went to is taking measures to disinfect toys. CBS news also reported on the rapid increase in enterovirus cases. 

Health officials are urging school officials to partner with them and stay on alert by sending children home who experience coughing, sneezing and sometimes a fever and/or rash.



Gerry Oginski
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