A cluster of enterovirus cases among local children is being investigated in Mobile by state health officials, according to the Mobile County Health Department, which has been notified that specimens from area residents were sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for testing.
Six of those specimens, all from a local hospital, tested positive for the enterovirus known as Type EV68. The Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating another cluster of the virus in what officials described as “north Alabama.”
The virus has been called a “summer flu” by some health officials and is circulating in several states, including Missouri and Illinois. Patients have various symptoms, which may include rash, fever, mild respiratory distress and neurologic illnesses. Some have experienced severe respiratory symptoms, causing a cough and wheezing.
Officials with the University of South Alabama Children’s & Women’s Hospital in Mobile have reported an increase in the number of cases of respiratory illnesses among children this summer.
“There is no vaccine for the virus,” said Mobile County Health Officer Dr. Bernard Eichold. “Treatment depends on the severity of the case. The best defense against this type of viral illness is to keep children home if they are sick, wash hands frequently and cover sneezes and coughs.”
If your child has any of the symptoms mentioned above, contact your health care provider for more instructions and follow them. The EV-D68 is an infection that rarely has been reported in the U.S. for the last 40 years, according to the CDC.