An 8-year-old Massachusetts girl is recovering after contracting Enterovirus D-68, a potentially severe respiratory illness common in children, health officials confirmed Tuesday.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health announced that the child, who lives in the southeastern part of the state, had been treated for the virus and released.
"She was relatively ill at the time, but has done terrifically well and is home," said Dr. Michael Agus, whose unit at Boston Children's Hospital treated the girl. "I just spoke with her mother, and she's doing very well at home."
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"With Enterovirus D-68 now widespread across the country, this news comes as no surprise," said DPH Commissioner Cheryl Bartlett, RN. "We have been working closely with pediatric providers and area hospitals to ensure the proper testing was done to identify the virus. For most children, this virus is relatively mild – but for children with asthma or other respiratory illnesses, it can be serious. Parents should contact their pediatrician if their child is experiencing respiratory issues."
The widespread nature was the most significant aspect of the illness, Agus explained.
"This is just a regular virus that has a name," he said. "What's unique about it is primarily that it's hitting an enormous number of children at the same time. The severity of illness that it produces is really quite similar to every other cold virus we see in the winter and fall."
Agus said that he suspects more than 100 cases of Enterovirus were being treated at the hospital. He added that most cases are treated with medication, while a respirator is used for a small minority.
"All of the children have either recovered or are in the process of recovering," he said.
Dr. Al DeMaria, a state epidemiologist, said he expects the virus to continue to circle for a few more weeks. Doctors expect more children to be diagnosed.
Bartlett says respiratory illness is common in children at this time of year and gave tips to avoid becoming ill, such has frequently washing hands and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth before washing them.
Boston Children's Hospital says they have seen a "surge" of children with respiratory illness, which sparked the concern in the Bay State.
A six-year-old girl in Connecticut was confirmed to have the virus, but has since recovered.
Since August, more than 150 people in at least 28 different states have suffered from the virus.
Doctors say symptoms include fever, sneezing, body aches and runny nose.