Arizona Sees First Confirmed Case Of Enterovirus D68

Published: Thursday, October 23, 2014 - 2:42pm
(Kathy Ritchie/ KJZZ News)
Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine is the medical director for the Disease Control Division at Maricopa County Department of Public Health.

The first case of Enterovirus has been confirmed in Arizona. The child, from Maricopa County, was hospitalized and has since recovered and been released. So now that EV-D68 is here, what does this news means to the parents of children and infants who could be at risk?

It was only a matter of time. Arizona, along with just a few other states, had yet to report any confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68, the respiratory illness affecting young children and infants, particularly those with asthma. That changed Wednesday.

"We are sending tests to CDC every day for suspect enterovirus D68 cases and tests are coming back on daily basis," said Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine with the Disease Control Division at the Maricopa County Department of Public Health. "So far, this has been the first confirmed positive test and we will likely see more in the future."

Sunenshine couldn’t talk about the specifics of how the child contracted EV-D68. It’s that vagueness that makes the virus especially frightening to many parents. Sunenshine understands why parents are fearful, she’s the mother of a young child with asthma, but she’s also mindful of the realities.

"Influenza causes approximately 24,000 deaths per year and there have only a small number of deaths from Enterovirus D68," Sunenshine said.

Enterovirus 68 isn’t new. Though, according to Sunenshine, this is the first case in recent memory to hit Arizona. There is also no vaccine. Sunenshine advises parents and teachers to remind kids to wash their hands and cover their coughs and sneezes.