BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – The enterovirus has been in Western New York since mid-August and is still here, according to Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein and Kaleida Health.
There are 14 confirmed cases of the virus, but that number is a “moving target” because all of the test results are not back and there may have been cases that were not tested. So far, the virus has spread to 22 states, up from 12 states just one week ago.
“We’re just confirming what we’ve already been very suspicious of for the past several weeks,” Burstein said. “If somebody has a bad respiratory virus right now in the community, there’s a good chances it’s from the enterovirus D68 strain.”
The virus has a large spectrum; it can range from a mild cold to a severe illness. This is the county’s first experience with the virus, so there is no way to predict exactly how it will play out in the area, officials say.
Dr. Stephen Turkovich, of Kaleida Health, says children in the hospital saw turn around very quickly, within one to two days. The most severe cases were in the hospital for three to four days. The enterovirus causes difficulty breathing, coughing, sneezing and fever. Many children who became severely ill also suffered from asthma.
Burstein said, “My suspicion is that we are reaching the peak. It may last for another week or so. Then like any other virus it should die out in the community.”
Women and Children’s Hospital has seen double the number of patients in their Pediatric ICU. Though the virus itself is more mild than the flu, a lot of children are affected. Doctors advise keeping children away from others who have been infected.
The New York State Health Department recommends people follow the following tips to stay healthy:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Use the same precautions you would use to prevent the spread of influenza.
Burstein says this is also a good time for residents to remember flu season is around the corner and adults should get immunized against the flu. Pediatric doctors should be getting in their flu vaccines soon, Burstein said.