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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Pager 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@state.de.us

Date: September 29, 2014


DOVER (September 26, 2014) - The Delaware Division of Public Health (DPH) announced today that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laboratory reported a positive for Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in one Delaware child. A total of six samples from children hospitalized in Delaware were sent to the CDC on September 12, 2014 with the results arriving late Thursday, September 25. Of the six samples sent, four test results showed they were not positive for EV-D68, but instead had human rhinovirus. The sixth child, who lives out-of-state, also tested positive for EV-D68, and DPH provided the test results to that child's home state. An additional two samples have been sent for testing on another child, with results pending.

To date, 15 children have been reported to DPH as receiving hospital treatment for respiratory viral illnesses. Reporting such illnesses is not required by law, but DPH has requested local hospitals provide updates. Additional updates are expected and the number of illnesses is expected to climb. The number of illnesses is slightly above normal, but not high enough to cause significant concern as a jump in viral illnesses is expected during back-to-school season. The children range in age from just under one year to age 17. Of the 15 total reported cases, the majority were from Delaware (nine from New Castle County and one each in Kent and Sussex counties) and four from out of state. All those who have sought medical treatment are doing well and are at home.

"Prevention is the best weapon against most viruses," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH Director. "Most viruses that cause respiratory illness are easily spread and likely shared from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces. Sanitary precautions like regular hand washing, staying home when ill, and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces are important."

To prevent the spread of viruses that cause respiratory illness:

Adults and children with asthma and allergies are particularly vulnerable to respiratory illness. If someone with existing breathing issues begins to show symptoms of a respiratory illness, it is particularly important to reach out to your health care provider. If someone is having difficulty breathing, call 911 immediately. If a child under 3 months of age has a fever, call your pediatrician immediately.

It is important to note that just because someone has a respiratory illness, does not mean they have EV-D68. Enteroviruses are very common human viruses; there are more than 100 types with various clinical syndromes, from minor febrile illness to severe, potentially fatal conditions (e.g., aseptic meningitis, paralysis, myocarditis, and neonatal enterovirus). It is estimated that 10 million to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year. Most people infected with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious. Infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become sick.

Most enterovirus infections in the United States occur seasonally during the summer and fall. For further information on preventing the spread of illness, visit the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/stopgerms.htm.

Similar to enteroviruses, most rhinoviruses are also common and have over 100 types. It is the most frequent cause of the common cold. It can become more serious in very young children or those with a history of breathing problems. For further information, visit www.cdc.gov/features/rhinoviruses/.

Health care providers are asked to report any cluster of respiratory illness in their patients by calling the DPH Office of Infectious Disease Epidemiology: 888-295-5156 or 302-744-1033.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com. Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.