A respiratory illness that is spreading across the nation has been confirmed in Maryland.
The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a news release Wednesday that the enterovirus 68 was identified in a specimen collected from a hospitalized child in suburban Maryland. It was sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.
EV-D68 was first identified in 1962 in California. The non-polio enterovirus is known to cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Symptoms of the virus include runny nose, sneezing, fever, coughing and body and muscle aches, according to the CDC.
The virus can cause mild to severe illness, with the worst cases needing life support for breathing difficulties. Kids with asthma have been especially vulnerable.
"Now that this virus is known to be in Maryland, it is important that we all take reasonable steps to limit its spread and control its impact," said DHMH Secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein.
In order to prevent the spread of this virus, the DHMH recommends that families:
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
- Keep sick children at home
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and toys
- Wash your hands often
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups with those who are sick
Last week, state public health officials in Virginia confirmed that seven of 10 children tested positive for the virus. Although officials have not specified where in Maryland the virus has spread, DHMH has been working with school officials and other institutions that monitor student health and activity.
The CDC confirms that from mid-August to Sep.24, 2014, 220 people in 32 states have been diagnosed with respiratory illness due to EV-D68.