Remember enterovirus D68? It’s the disease we were all talking about before the first case of Ebola was confirmed in the U.S. yesterday.
And now both Los Angeles County and the City of Long Beach (which runs its own health department) have each confirmed one case of EV-D68, as it's known.
One thing you need to remember about this disease: There’s no need to panic.
A little refresher
In case you’ve been flooded with Ebola news, here’s some background on EV-D68: It can cause mild to severe respiratory illness, including fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, body and muscle aches, wheezing and difficulty breathing.
The disease likely spreads when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces.
Anyone can get EV-D68, but in the recent outbreak, kids with asthma seem to be at higher risk for severe respiratory illness, the CDC says.
The first cases appeared in the midwest in September, and the virus has since spread to most states in the nation.
Two weeks ago, the California Department of Public Health confirmed four cases of the disease in San Diego and Ventura counties. At that time, the state health department said it expected to see more cases.
In LA County
The case of EV-D68 in Long Beach occurred in a male infant, according to John Holguin, the city health department's epidemiology program supervisor.
Holguin says the child's parents brought him to the hospital in early September with a brief cough and rising fever, and he spent one evening in the pediatric intensive care unit. He's now doing well, said Holguin.
In L.A. County, the patient was a child who became sick in late August with a respiratory infection. The patient then developed acute limb weakness, which can be a symptom of severe cases of EV-D68, according to the county health department.
The child has since regained some mobility, according to a spokeswoman with the county health department.
"Acute limb weakness and other neurological symptoms are uncommon with any enterovirus, including EV-D68," Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county's interim health officer, said in a statement." At the same time, Gunzenhauser noted that while "enteroviruses are very common, especially among children, most cases of enterovirus will not lead to serious illness."
There are now a total of eight confirmed cases of EV-D68 in the state, according to the California Department of Public Health. Along with the two new cases in L.A. County, the state reports four in San Diego County, and one each in Ventura and Alameda counties.
Holguin and Gunzenhauser both emphasize that the best way to prevent further spread of EV-D68 is to follow proper hygiene.
Among the county's recommendations are:
- Wash your hands often with soap water. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers are not effective against this disease;
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick;
- And stay home if you're sick.
We'll update this post as we learn more.