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Doctors await test results to confirm Enterovirus D-68 in West Michigan

Posted at 8:38 PM, Sep 12, 2014

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Enterovirus D-68 is a big concern for parents across the country as new cases continue to pop up.

More than 10 states around the Midwest and southeast have reported seeing similarly high numbers of hospitalizations of children with severe respiratory illness.

Michigan has yet to confirm any cases of Enterovirus D-68, though doctors say they're just awaiting the test results.

Doctors in Idaho are LAO preparing for more children with D-68 as West Michigan hospitals do the same.

“When you have a child that has these conditions like repeated wheezing or asthma, it would be good if you protected them from other children who were sick,” Dr. Richard Van Enk, Director of Infection Prevention & Epidemiology at Bronson Hospital, said.

He reminds parents to keep sick kids at home so the virus doesn’t spread.

“You don't want to be the cause of an outbreak,” he said.

Muskegon health officials told 4-year-old Elly Welch`s mom Jennifer that she tested positive for Enterovirus on Wednesday. The illness was so severe, Elly was back in the emergency room Friday with a fever and difficulty breathing.

“A mother's worst fear's for her child to get an illness so terrible that’s out there,” Welch said.

Tests from children with Enterovirus across West Michigan have been sent to the Michigan Department of Community Health, then to the Center for Disease Control to see if they’re infected with the strain D-68, which has hospitalized children nationwide.

"This strain of Enterovirus has just been causing a more severe respiratory disease than typical strains,” Dr. Jeremy Hertzig of Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center said.

Local doctors believe the cases in West Michigan are in fact D-68.

"The significance is what has been happening across the country is almost a 20 percent increase in what we would normally see mainly in the pediatric hospitalizations and intensive care units," Hertzig said.

Doctors say adults can catch Enterovirus, but most have already been exposed to less severe strains and have become immune.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says they don’t have a timeline for when they expect those results back to confirm whether or not this is D-68.