The number of cases of enterovirus D68 has been increasing and State Epidemiologist Dr. Tina Tan told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that the hospitals in New Jersey are fully prepared to deal with the cases.
Tan said that it is currently the middle of respiratory virus season. She said that precautions that people can take to prevent of any sort of respiratory virus are washing hands with soap and water, making sure to avoid close contact with sick people, making sure that you stay home when you are sick and making sure to disinfect frequently touched objects. She said that it is important for people to consider getting flu vaccines now because it is also the beginning of flu season.
Tan said that there is not a correlation between the flu, enterovirus and other respiratory viruses besides the fact that this is the time of the year that theses viruses are circulated through communities. She said for that reason, that is why the precautions she named protect against all of those viruses.
When asked what the Department of Health is doing to minimize the spread of enterovirus D68, Tan said that she has been reaching out to health care providers that are public health partners to get the message out about ensuring that the communities that they serve understand and recognize the precautions that people need to take to prevent illness for themselves and the community, and to very important infection control measures that people can take in the event that they do identify these types of respiratory illness in their community. Tan said that the hospitals in New Jersey are fully prepared and ready to go.
There have been reports of paralysis as a result of enterovirus that mimics polio. Tan said that there are descriptions right now of limb weakness that might be associated with enterovirus but it is unclear if there is an association at this point. She said that she is always concerned about illnesses in the community, particularly among children, so that is something that they are monitoring at the State Health Department and local health departments.
“Right now we have a total of seven confirmed cases of enterovirus D68 that have been identified,” said Tan.