Mysterious EV-D68: Vaccinated Children Could Be More Vulnerable

The mysterious virus known as EV-D68 has spread across the Midwest at a rapid rate. Many children have been hospitalized with the virus, about 475 in Kansas City alone, and there is no known vaccine to lessen the effects of the virus or protect those that have yet to acquire it.

EV-D68 has created an outbreak in Colorado, Missouri, Utah, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio, and four more states in the Midwest. The symptoms can mimic those of the influenza virus, but can have a much more dire impact on those that fall ill. Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, the hospital’s division director for infectious disease shared her concern with CNN.

“It’s worse in terms of scope of critically ill children who require intensive care. I would call it unprecedented. I’ve practiced for 30 years in pediatrics, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this,”

Although there is no known vaccine for the virus, and the scope which it will reach is also unknown, those that have become infected are following a common theme. They have all been vaccinated with the MMR vaccines, influenza vaccines, and polio vaccines. Of course, many children in the United States have been vaccinated, and most are required to be vaccinated in order to enter school. However, it is interesting to note that the illness is not occurring, yet, in children that have not been vaccinated.

William Shaffner, head of Department of Preventive Medicine at Vanderbilt University, has not shared that EV-D68 has only infected vaccinated children, but does share his concern about the virus.

“Most enteroviruses cause either a little bit of a cold or a diarrheal illness — a few cause meningitis. This one is the, if you will, odd cousin. It causes prominent respiratory symptoms. Why it does that, we’re really not sure.”

There is no doubt that the outbreak of EV-D68 is quite scary, and may be more dangerous that the RSV virus outbreak of the late 1990’s. Many parents are wondering what they can do to keep their children protected and shield them from contracting the virus. CNN shared the following information to help keep your kids safe.

“To reduce the risk of infection, individuals should wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick; disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as toys and doorknobs; and stay home when feeling sick…”

Some reporting agencies are also recommending the use of Vitamin D, a natural immune system booster, to help strengthen the immune system prior to the virus reaching individuals.

So far, states that are surrounded by the virus, such as Indiana and Michigan, seem to be safe from the outbreak. Only time will tell if it will continue to spread, or eventually die off like the avian flu did.

[Photo Courtesy: KETV]