Cluster of patients test positive for possible enterovirus infection in King County

Sep 11, 2014, 10:02 AM | Updated: 2:03 pm

Dr. Danielle Zerr, Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Seattle Children’s Hospi...

Dr. Danielle Zerr, Division Chief of Pediatric Infectious Disease at Seattle Children's Hospital, and Dr. Jeff Duchin, Chief of Communicable Disease and Epidemiology at Public Health - Seattle & King County answered questions about the cases in Seattle on Thursday. (KIRO Radio/Tim Haeck)

(KIRO Radio/Tim Haeck)

A respiratory illness that has sickened hundreds of children in 10 states may have made its way to Washington.
King County Public Health reports a cluster of patients with severe respiratory illness tested positive for a possible enterovirus infection.

The Center for Disease Control is conducting additional testing to see if this is the enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) strain that’s been responsible for the sicknesses in other states.

Seattle Children’s Hospital has treated 15 patients, ages six months to 14 years. Eleven have been admitted this week. Five of the children were admitted to the intensive care unit.

“I don’t want anyone to panic about this,” said Jeff Duchin, chief of communicable diseases and epidemiology at Public Health Seattle King County. “This is still a relatively small number of patients.”

The suspected germ, enterovirus 68, is an uncommon strain of a very common family of viruses that typically hit from summertime through autumn.

There are no confirmed cases of EV-D68 in King County or Washington state at this time, but health officials say they would not be surprised if it is here.

“Although we can’t currently say that these cases are definitely due to EV-D68, it would not be surprising if the virus is confirmed on further testing,” said Duchin.

State health department spokesman Marqise Allen says the 15 cases were transported to Seattle Children’s hospital from across Washington state, with one from Montana.

The CDC reports cases of enterovirus D68 have been confirmed in six states including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky and Missouri.

Public Health has contacted hospitals in King County “letting them know that they should be prepared for a surge of patients, both at their emergency department level and potentially admitted to the hospital, requiring intensive care and to think about supplies and staff and how they would manage that surge,” Duchin said.

If this enterovirus strain does appear locally, King County Public Health warns many could develop respiratory infections in a short period of time, as it spreads similarly to the common cold. Most would experience the virus as a mild illness, but those with asthma face more risk, health officials say.

“It’s important for families to make sure asthma symptoms are under control, and to see a health care provider if a person with asthma develops a respiratory illness that worsens asthma symptoms,” Duchin said.

While children with asthma are especially at risk, reported cases include children without asthma who have developed asthma-like breathing problems. The University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital has treated several cases, including extremely sick children requiring life-support machines, said Dr. Rachel Wolfson, an intensive care unit physician.

King County Health says those not suffering from a severe form of the illness do not need to seek medical attention.
To decrease the risk of contracting the infection, they said to wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Alcohol gels do not work as well for these viruses. Avoid contact with sick people and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands. They also encourage those who are sick to not go to school or work.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Local News

A person browses offerings in the Raven's Nest Treasure shop in Pike Place Market, Dec. 10, 2021, i...

Associated Press

Man who faked Native American heritage to sell his art in Seattle sentenced to probation

A Washington state man who falsely claimed Native American heritage to sell his artwork at downtown Seattle galleries was sentenced Wednesday to federal probation and community service.

2 hours ago

Ferry cancellations ferries next...

L.B. Gilbert

Fares go up for Washington State Ferries for October

Most Washington state ferry fares are going up effective Oct. 1. Walk-on and drive-on fares increase an average of 4.25%.

3 hours ago

manny ellis tacoma police...

L.B. Gilbert

3 Tacoma officers on trial in killing of Manny Ellis, starts Monday

The trial for the three Tacoma Police Department (TPD) Officers charged with the death of 33-year-old Black man, Manuel "Manny" Ellis, in March 2020.

4 hours ago

(Photo from KIRO 7)...

KIRO 7 News Staff

Continuing power outages cause frustration among Ballard residents

Some Ballard residents are extremely frustrated this Sunday. Their power has been out since almost midnight and they say it’s a repeating problem.

5 hours ago

File - The Southern University Human Jukebox marching band warms up before the 2023 National Battle...

Associated Press

Federal student loan payments are starting again. Here’s what you need to know

Federal student loan borrowers will need to start making payments again this month after a three-year-plus pause due to the pandemic.

6 hours ago

(Photo from KIRO 7)...

Julia Dallas, KIRO 7 News

Enjoy Seattle, Tacoma, Bellevue fall colors with these nature walks

Fall has arrived in Western Washington! This weekend is supposed to be in the 70s, making the perfect weather for nature walks.

20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Cluster of patients test positive for possible enterovirus infection in King County