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Doctors warn parents to take precautions against respiratory virus

EUREKA- The respiratory illness affecting hundreds of children across the country has not yet reached Humboldt County, but doctors say parents should start taking precautions now.

Enterovirus D68 is a rare respiratory illness that has symptoms similar to the common cold. Infected children may experience wheezing, coughing, trouble breathing and rash. Health officials say children with asthma are especially at risk.

“If we were to see this enterovirus I think that kids with pre-existing respiratory conditions will probably be hit the hardest,” said Diana Yandell, Emergency Physician St. Joseph Hospital. “Kids with normal immune systems and normal lungs will be able to fight it off just like any cold but if your child has asthma and seems to be particularly hard hit by a cold, being seen by a medical professional is a good idea.”

As of Tuesday, no cases have been reported in California. However, doctors at St. Joseph Hospital say they don’t have the capability to test for the virus specifically on location yet. They also say that they have seen an increase in flu-like symptoms lately, but they have not determined whether that increase is related to the enterovirus.

Now that school is back in session, health officials warn that various illnesses are more likely to spread from child to child. To protect yourself and others from catching the virus, doctors recommend washing your hands frequently and avoid sharing food and beverages with others.

For those who do come to local hospitals with respiratory-related symptoms, doctors say they will treat the symptoms how they typically treat respiratory illnesses.