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Rare respiratory virus strikes man in Thompson-Cariboo region

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September 17, 2014 - 2:30 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - A rare respiratory virus mainly affecting children across multiple states south of the border has made its way into the Thompson-Cariboo region of the Interior, Interior Health has confirmed.

Medical Health Officer Dr. Sue Pollock says three cases are known in B.C. including an adult male from the Thompson-Cariboo region.

Dr. Pollock says enterovirus D68 produces symptoms similar to the common cold and most who get it will experience mild to moderate symptoms. She says occasionally it travels lower into the respiratory tract and can be trouble, particularly for children who have narrower airways than adults. Those with underlying respiratory conditions such as asthma need to be cautious.

“Parents should be aware of symptoms to look for,” she says. “If (children) have a runny nose and sore throat they’re probably fine at home, but if (parents) see a progression and difficulty breathing, they should seek medical care.”

Enterovirus D68 isn’t new, but it’s rare. It was first identified in California in 1962. Dr. Pollock says she isn’t aware of any previous cases in B.C. but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been here before. She says other cases across Canada are known but it’s not something they normally test for. This year they are testing the prevalence of the virus in the United States and severity of symptoms in children.

“There is no vaccine, no antivirals,” Dr. Pollock says. “Those with mild illness can manage at home with bed rest. Some individuals might end up in hospital for extra support.”

Hospitals will be taking the usual precautions as with any respiratory virus, asking patients to wear masks. Staff will be doing the same. Take precautions at home to avoid risk of transmission to others such as hand washing, staying home when sick to prevent infecting others, covering the mouth when coughing or sneezing and avoiding sick people.

Dr. Pollock also says influenza, for which there is a good vaccine, can produce some of the same symptoms but has been moving slowly so far this year without any noticeable spikes. Influenza season usually runs from October to November.

To contact a reporter for this story, email or call 250-491-0331. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014
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