The new cases are pediatric patients from Essex and Passaic counties who were hospitalized, but have been discharged and are recovering. Earlier this month, the Department announced the first confirmed case of EV-D68 in a New Jersey child. All three children are preschool or elementary school age. For reasons of medical privacy, the Department will not be providing additional information about the children.
According to the CDC, 443 cases of EV-D68 have been confirmed in 40 states and the District of Columbia since mid-August. The Department is working with health care providers and local health departments to closely monitor for increases in respiratory illnesses in hospitals across the state. There is an existing surveillance system in place to monitor flu-like activity and the Department will use that process to monitor for EV-D68.
Answers to frequently asked questions about enteroviruses and EV-D68 can be found here.
Typically, EV-D68 causes upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, runny nose, sneezing and body/muscle aches and possibly low-grade fever. If children become ill, parents should consult with their health care provider.
Health Commissioner Mary E. O’Dowd said it is likely this virus is causing respiratory illnesses around the state. CDC has tested a high volume of specimens nationwide, and of the specimens tested by the CDC laboratory to date, only about half have tested positive for EV-D68. The Department has received several tests back from the CDC that were negative for EV-D68 and we have additional test results pending, including one from a Mercer County preschooler who died last Thursday. New Jersey labs cannot test specifically for EV-D68.
NJ and the country are currently in the middle of the respiratory virus season. Many different viruses are common this time of year, including influenza, rhinovirus and more than 100 other types of enteroviruses.
The preventive steps people can take to avoid becoming ill and the treatment are similar to those of most respiratory illnesses like the flu. Good hand hygiene is your best defense against getting infected with enterovirus:
Washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers. Hand sanitizers are not effective against entroviruses
Avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
Avoiding kissing, hugging, and sharing cup or eating utensils with people who are sick
Disenfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
“Enterovirus D68 is treated the same as other respiratory illnesses that are seen in children this time of year,” the Commissioner said. There is no vaccine or specific antiviral medication for enterovirus infections. However, individuals should be aware of other illnesses-such as the flu-that are preventable. It’s never too early to get a flu shot.
Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.
“Parents and caregivers should be aware that children with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, may experience severe complications and require hospitalization with supportive therapy,” Commissioner O’Dowd said.
In the upcoming weeks, more states will have confirmed cases of EV-D68 infection. It can take a while for the CDC to test specimens and obtain lab results as EV-D68 testing can only be done by CDC and a small number of state public health laboratories. These results will help public health officials track the spread and the trends regarding EV-D68 nationwide.
The Department recognizes the importance of continued monitoring of EV-D68 in New Jersey. Now that the virus is present in the state, the Department will not test every suspect EV-D68 case since a diagnosis of EV-D68 in patients will not change clinical management or public health actions.