S.R.H.S. Medical Staff Issue Public Advisory on Enterovirus D68

Medical representatives from Singing River Health System (S.R.H.S.) are issuing a public advisory regarding the recent national publicity of Enterovirus D68, a severe respiratory illness affecting children under 18 years old.

According to the Mississippi Health Alert Network (H.A.N.), no known cases of Enterovirus D68 have been confirmed in Mississippi, though the state has reported increased prevalence of respiratory illness requiring hospitalization among children.

Medical experts at S.R.H.S. would like to advise and educate parents on the transmission and symptoms of this virus and what to do if you suspect your child may have a respiratory illness.

“Our advice to parents is if their children have cold like symptoms of low grade fever, congestion or sneezing is to treat it like you would with a common cold. If they develop shortness of breath or wheezing then they need to be seen in the emergency room. The way to prevent or decrease exposure is to wash hands, clean and disinfect toys, and if a child is sick, to keep them at home from school until symptoms resolve. Within families, avoid all close facial contact or drinking after each other to prevent the spread within your own family,” said Dr. Steve Demetropoulos, S.R.H.S. Emergency Physician and President of the Emergency Room Group at S.R.H.S.

Transmission likely occurs through person-to-person contact via contact with infectious particles found in saliva or mucous. Fecal-oral transmission is another possible route of transmission. Recommendations to prevent the spread of this illness include washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers; avoiding touching of the eyes, nose and mouth areas with unwashed hands; avoiding kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick; disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is ill and keeping your children home when they are ill and consult your healthcare provider. There is no vaccine available for this illness.

Signs of Enterovirus D68 are variable, with some patients having only mild symptoms including runny nose, cough and congestion, while others have developed more severe symptoms including severe dyspnea and respiratory failure.

Testing and confirmation of Entrovirus D68 is done through private reference labs and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.)

Should your child become ill and you suspect he or she could have this illness, do not panic, but contact their pediatrician or bring them to the nearest emergency department. Singing River Health System has two hospitals with staff standing by ready to treat this and other medical emergencies. Singing River Hospital is located at 2809 Denny Ave. in Pascagoula, Miss. and Ocean Springs Hospital is located at 3109 Bienville Blvd. in Ocean Springs, Miss.

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