TDH reports first confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68 in Tennessee

NASHVILLE (press release)—The Tennessee Department of Health has received confirmation from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention of two cases of enterovirus D68 in Tennessee. One patient resides in West Tennessee and the other in East Tennessee. Both were young children who were hospitalized for their illnesses but are now home and doing well.

“As expected, Tennessee has been impacted by enterovirus D68 as have most other states this fall,” said TDH Commissioner John Dreyzehner, MD, MPH. “We have now confirmed two cases, while other samples have tested positive for different, common, seasonal cold viruses. It is also likely other samples will test positive for EV-D68 in the future.

“This is cold and flu season and simple measures like washing your hands and not touching your face are important ways to help protect against germs like EV-D68 that can’t be prevented with a vaccine,” said Dreyzehner. “This is also an excellent time to get your flu shot to protect yourself and people around you.”

Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, is one of more than 60 types of enterovirus which commonly cause cold-like symptoms in people. Some 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur annually in the United States with most infections occurring in summer and fall when children return to school. Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to contract an enterovirus than are adults.

Most of these infections are mild but some patients with more severe infections may need to be hospitalized. Anyone experiencing severe illness or difficulty breathing should talk with his or her healthcare provider for evaluation and parents of children who show any sign of trouble breathing should contact their child’s healthcare provider. Recently this virus has been linked to a few cases of a polio-like paralysis and a small number of deaths in other states; however, no causal relationship has been established.

“Prevention is the best approach since there are no vaccines to prevent EV-D68 and no specific treatments for EV-D68 infections,” said State Epidemiologist Tim F. Jones, MD. “Frequent hand washing will help reduce the chance of infection with this and many other viruses, along with not sharing items such as eating utensils, cups and glasses with those who are sick.”

It’s important to follow other commonsense good health habits to prevent enterovirus and other forms of illness. If you are coughing or sneezing, turn your face into your elbow or shoulder for cover. People who are sick with respiratory symptoms should not attend school or go to work or other places where they can spread their infection until symptoms have resolved.

TDH is sharing information about EV-D68 with healthcare providers through the Tennessee Health Alert Network. Providers are reminded to consider EV-D68 in patients with symptoms of respiratory illness.

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