HALIFAX – A Halifax pediatric infectious disease doctor says it is only a matter of time before a respiratory illness that is sickening children in the U.S. makes its way to Nova Scotia.
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is believed to be responsible for sending hundreds of children to the hospital in the American Midwest. Some have required intensive care.
Children with respiratory illnesses, such as asthma, appear to be most vulnerable.
Dr. Joanne Langley at the IWK in Halifax said EV-D68 has the potential to spread, like most viruses in general.
“They don’t observe borders so it wouldn’t be surprising to see that particular virus go around North America,” Langley said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the enterovirus is common but rates are higher than expected for this time of year.
“This virus, enterovirus, is around every year especially during the summer and causes summer colds. What is it about this strain that’s causing more severe illness than usual, I think nobody is clear on that,” said Nova Scotia’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Strang.
Canadian public health officials said they are keeping in close contact with their counterparts south of the border.
“The Agency is not aware of any outbreaks of EV-D68 in Canada. The Agency has also not seen any recent increase in EV-D68 infections and there is no reason to suggest that this is an emerging infection that is increasing in incidence in Canada,” reads a statement from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
No cases have been reported in Nova Scotia or Canada, but Strang said he is keeping a close eye on the situation.
“We certainly have the capacity to detect this. If we start to see increased clusters in viral illnesses in emergency room visits and hospitalizations, we have a system in place in general to detect that and to work with our labs to determine what the cause is,” Strang said.
Symptoms are similar to the common cold but can become quite severe for some children.
“The virus has actually gone into their lungs. They have pneumonia, trouble breathing, need oxygen support and need to come into the hospital to help tide them over,” Langley said.
Langley said some of the more severe symptoms include wheezing and breathing that is very quick. Parents should also keep an eye out for children who seem to be putting a lot of effort into their breathing and change of colour in their child’s face.
News of the virus is on the radar for Joy Barrett of Dartmouth, who is the mother of two girls with asthma.
“I’ve seen some article on it. I watch my 苏州美甲美睫培训论坛 feeds fill up with notifications of stories out of the U.S.,” she said.
Barrett said she plans to keep watch of her children – making sure they stay on top of their asthma medication routines and see their doctor as soon as they get sick.
“It’s definitely concerning for me. I’m going to be keeping a closer eye on how they’re feeling, what they’re doing, where they’re hanging out and who they’re hanging out with,” she said.
“My mom said it affects more of the younger kids than the teens,” said her daughter Audrey Barrett-Couvrette, 10.
“I’m worried I might get it.”
Doctors say children and families can protect themselves by washing hands before eating, not going to work or school if ill and sneezing into their sleeve.