California public health experts say a strain of the enterovirus that is hospitalizing children with respiratory illness in other parts of the country is now circulating in the state.
Four cases of enterovirus D-68 have turned up in the the southern California counties of San Diego and Ventura. All of the infections were in kids, most of them had pre-existing asthma, and all of them were hospitalized and then released.
The California Department of Public Health says enteroviruses are actually quite common and circulate this time of year, but this strain is found less often. Dr. Carol Glaser of the department says more cases are likely to turn up.
“We’re really only beginning to look, so it’s a very good chance that in the next week or so may identify several other places in the state that are positive right now they just haven’t been tested yet.”
The state says many people can become infected with an enterovirus and not even know it, but symptoms can be more severe in kids. Cases have turned up in at least 18 other states, including Montana and Colorado. There is no vaccine for the virus.
Dr. Gil Chavez of the California Department of Public Health says all of the kids have been released from the hospital.
“They reported no travel outside of California, three or four have underlying asthma, all presented with wheezing and respiratory distress, and all four were admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit,” says Chavez.
Chavez says handwashing and other preventive measures are important as there are no vaccines for the virus.