First local case of virus reported

A Pierce County child hospitalized earlier this month with severe asthma symptoms tested positive for the Enterovirus (EV) D68 virus, which has been causing respiratory illnesses nationally. The Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department received confirmation Sept. 29 from the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that the youngster had been stricken with the untreatable illness. According to CDC, from mid-August to Sept. 29, 443 people in 40 states and the District of Columbia have been confirmed to have respiratory problems caused by EV-D68. Enteroviruses commonly circulate in summer and fall. King County reported its first case on Sept. 19. Officials said the Pierce County child has recovered from the virus, which can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Severe symptoms can include difficulty in breathing. No specific treatment or vaccine is available, but supportive therapy can help in serious cases. Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their doctor if having difficulty breathing or if symptoms worsen. "Respiratory diseases are common,GÇ¥ said Nigel Turner, director of the Health Department's Communicable Disease Control Division. "With flu season around the corner, it's important for people to take steps to protect the health of their families and our community.GÇ¥ The virus likely generally spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches surfaces. Officials said the public can help protect itself from respiratory illnesses by following these steps: -+ Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. -+ Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. -+ Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick. -+ Stay home when you are sick. -+ Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick. Since people with asthma are a higher risk for respiratory illnesses and should regularly take medicines and maintain control of their illness, especially during this time, officials said. They should also take advantage of influenza vaccine since people with asthma have a difficult time with respiratory illnesses.


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