FORREST COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - Enterovirus D-68 has affected approximately 500 Americans across 42 states, including here at home in Forrest County, but health officials have warned that death is very rare.
"It's a very, very common virus," said Dr. James Griffin of the Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative. "Probably, we have 10 or 15 million cases a year."
The virus is often described as the common cold, but it was found to be a common denominator in four deaths, although not confirmed as the cause of death.
A 10-year-old girl in Rhode Island died last week, although it is not clear what role the Enterovirus played. She also had a staph infection, which has been reported as her main illness.
The reason the virus has gained so much attention recently is due to the number of cases reported, including a large number of children in Colorado, some of which have experienced muscle weakness and paralysis. That, too, has not been confirmed as an effect of the virus.
Dr. Griffin said it is mostly found in children, and the virus becomes serious if children with asthma contract the virus, "causing severe respiratory distress."
Like the common cold, symptoms are the same.
"Cough, sneezing, muscle aches, runny or stopped up nose and maybe even a slight fever," explained Griffin.
Preventive measures are common, too:
Disinfect common surfaces, including toys and doorknobs
Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth before washing hands
Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds
Stay home if ill