Politics & Government

Pierce County records first case of enterovirus D68

Pierce County has recorded its first case of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department reported Tuesday.

A Pierce County child who was in Madigan Army Medical Center with severe asthma symptoms earlier in September tested positive for EV-D68, the health department said. The boy has since recovered.

The health department received confirmation of the case from the Centers for Disease Control late Monday.

A total of 443 people in 40 states and the District of Columbia have been confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by EV-D68, according to the CDC. The cases occurred from mid-August to Sept. 29. Enteroviruses commonly circulate in the summer and fall, the health department said.

King County reported its first case Sept. 19.

EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Mild symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body and muscle aches. Severe symptoms include difficulty in breathing.

No specific treatment or vaccine is available. But supportive therapies can help in serious cases. People with respiratory illnesses should contact their doctors if they are having difficulty breathing or their symptoms become worse.

The virus is spread when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches surfaces.

The health department advises people to help protect themselves by following these steps:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.

• Stay home when you are sick.

• Disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

People with asthma are at higher risk for respiratory illnesses. They should take their medicines regularly and maintain control of their condition, especially during this time, the health department said. They should also get the flu vaccine.