ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Across the county there has been an outbreak of a respiratory illness called Enterovirus D68. While it officially has not been confirmed in New Mexico, health officials say it’s only a matter of time before it will.
Dr. Felipe Zanghellini from Lovelace Medical Group said Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is not a new illness. It’s one of many non-polio enteroviruses. This virus was first identified in California in 1962, but it has not been commonly reported in the United States.
EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Most of the children who got very ill with EV-D68 infection in Missouri and Illinois had difficulty breathing, and some had wheezing. Many of these children had asthma or a history of wheezing.
Since EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, the virus can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus or sputum. EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces.
In general, infants, children and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enterovirus and become ill. That’s because they do not yet have immunity from previous exposures to these viruses.
Among the EV-D68 cases in Missouri and Illinois, children with asthma seemed to have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness.
There is currently no vaccination. To avoid the illness, people should wash their hands and avoid contact with others who may have the illness.