Doctors believe Enterovirus D-68 has spread to West Michigan

Posted at 9:02 PM, Sep 11, 2014

MONTAGUE, Mich. - Fears of enterovirus hitting in West Michigan are becoming reality.

After speaking with health officials in the Muskegon County area, FOX 17 is learning several children have tested positive for the virus.

Jennifer Welch rushed her 4-year-old daughter Elly to the hospital Wednesday with a fever and difficulty breathing. She says the doctors told her Elly has the virus that is affecting kids across the country. Doctors say it will take further testing to determine if it’s the specific strain that’s hospitalized hundreds of children in surrounding states.

Elly has Prader Willi Syndrome, which requires her to have a breathing tracheotomy. Children with respiratory issues are more susceptible to enterovirus. Elly is currently on a ventilator at all times. “We have oxygen here," Welch said. "They said she would have been admitted if she didn`t already have it."

Hackley Hospital in Muskegon says five children have tested positive for enterovirus and samples  believed to be D-68 have been sent to the health department.

There`s no vaccine or cure for the sickness, and doctors tell parents to watch for coughing, fever, runny nose, shortness of breath, and wheezing. They say prevention is the key: Washing hands and covering coughs.

“It`s scary with her, because her immune system is already bad, and then a mother's worst fears for her child to get an illness so terrible that’s out there,” she said.

Doctors say if one child in your home has enterovirus, it's important to keep them away from siblings and out of school to prevent spreading the highly contagious illness.

The good news is that enterovirus has not proven to be fatal.