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A serious respiratory virus has infected over 100 Ontario children, the Toronto Star reports. The McMaster Children’s Hospital released their results Wednesday, noting that Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) has infected 96 people in Hamilton in the past four weeks alone.
The EV-D68 cold strain has been sending children to the hospital since August, with cases first reported in the United States. It has now spread to various parts of Canada, including British Columbia and Alberta. Ontario is the latest province to be hit with the virus with confirmed cases in Windsor, Ottawa and Toronto. According to the report, that brings the total number of Ontarians infected with EV-D68 to 102.
However Ontario health officials are optimistic that the outbreak is almost over. “What’s encouraging is that we are seeing a decrease over the past couple of days in the number of samples we’re receiving,” said Dr Marek Smieja, head of virology at the Hamilton Regional Laboratory Medicine Program. “We know from experience, and the science behind how viruses spread, that EV-D68 has now peaked and is declining compared to other types of viruses.”
In a majority of cases, EV-D68 only presents mild cold symptoms such as fever, coughing, runny nose and body aches. Like other common viruses, it can be transmitted through coughing, sneezing and touching contaminated surfaces.
In severe cases, the virus attacks the respiratory system which causes difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing and fast breathing — at which point the patient requires immediate medical attention. As scary as that may sound, health officials note that a lot of children will contract EV-D68 but will be able to handle it like any other common cold. Children with a history of asthma, allergies or other respiratory diseases are at greater risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the best way to prevent the spread of the virus is to practise good hand hygiene, refrain from sharing utensils and other items with people that are sick and to constantly disinfect common areas of your home, especially if someone in your household is ill.
Parents are advised to watch their children closely this cold and flu season. If you notice your child starts to have any difficulty breathing, seek emergency medical attention immediately.