Health officials have confirmed Riverside County’s first case of a potentially serious respiratory illness in a teenager from southwest Riverside County. From mid-August to Oct. 7, a total of 628 people in 44 states and the District of Columbia have been confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by EV-D68, according to the federal Center for Disease Control.

The teen was treated at a medical facility in San Diego County for enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) and is recovering at home, said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer. Several other suspected cases also are being investigated.

“The illness has affected many portions of the country and state, including Southern California, so its arrival in Riverside County is not a surprise,” said Kaiser. “But there are simple steps that can be taken to slow the spread and lesson its impact on the community.”

As of Oct. 1, the California Department of Public Health has confirmed EV-D68 infection in 14 patients this year. Besides Riverside County, the patients are residents of Alameda (2), Los Angeles (1), San Francisco (1), Santa Cruz (1), San Diego (5), Solano (1) and Ventura (1) counties, and Long Beach City (1), Dr. Ron Chapman, CDPH director and state health officer announced Friday. The ages range from less than 1 year to 15 years.

“Given the magnitude of EV-D68 in other parts of country, we are pleased with the number of new confirmed cases in the state not growing as rapidly as it is elsewhere,” said Dr. Gil Chavez, CDPH deputy director, who acknowledged that CDPH expects the number of cases to continue to grow.
Thirteen of these patients have had respiratory illness and one has had acute flaccid paralysis. Other specimens from throughout the state are being tested at CDPH laboratories and more cases are anticipated in the coming weeks. CDPH continues to work with local health departments to collect and test specimens from patients with severe respiratory illness and acute flaccid paralysis without other known causes.
Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose or eyes.

Here are some health tips to protect yourself from respiratory illnesses:

• Do not go to work or school if you are feeling sick.

• Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.

• 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, especially if someone is sick.

Most of the illnesses across the country have occurred in young children and many have reported a history of asthma. For children with asthma, parents should review the asthma plan and contact their health care provider if the condition worsens.

It is estimated that 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the U.S. each year. While more than 100 types of enteroviruses commonly cause respiratory illness, EV-D68 is a less common type, which was first identified in California in 1962.

Enteroviruses can cause a wide range of illnesses, including the common cold. EV-D68 has also been detected in children with other illnesses, including paralysis, but there is no known link between the virus and other types of illnesses. Although some enteroviruses can cause serious disease such as polio, the vast majority of enterovirus infections are minor and patients recover completely.