First Montana case of Enterovirus confirmed in Yellowstone County

First Montana case of Enterovirus confirmed in Yellowstone County

BILLINGS — The outbreak of a respiratory virus that has plagued children in 12 states now has a confirmed case in Montana.

Jon Ebelt, information officer for the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services, confirmed Wednesday that the Enterovirus strain EV-D68 was “laboratory confirmed.”

Ebelt said the infected patient is a child under the age of 10 in Yellowstone County.

That strain is one of more than 100 strains of the virus, but Ebelt said it is the one that is consistent with the national report of the outbreak.

Information on the confirmed case was released Wednesday.

Lewis & Clark City-County Health Department public health nurse Mike Henderson said, “Most Enterovirus infections cause very mild symptoms, or no symptoms at all, so most people won’t present to the doctor, there won’t be lab tests or investigations done on that sort of thing.”

Henderson says the recent rash of Enterovirus D68 has led to many children being hospitalized due to breathing issues.

Those clusters are being followed by the Centers for Disease Control, which in turn keeps health departments informed on what’s developing.

Henderson explained, “That information is sent to state health departments, that distribute it to local health departments, and we in turn distribute those alerts to the local community.”

That means making sure the information gets out to physicians, pharmacies, and school nurses, among others. In turn, they keep tabs on any reports coming in that may need further investigation.

Many of the children who are being hospitalized have a history of asthma or wheezing, says Dr. Christine Nyquist, medical director of infection control at Children’s Hospital Colorado. EV-D68 seems to exacerbate any breathing problems that aren’t under control with medication.

Children’s Hospital Colorado has seen a 12% to 15% increase in emergency room visits and admissions this month compared with the same time frame last year, Nyquist said. The hospital sent 25 samples to the CDC from patients with respiratory illness. Around 75% were confirmed to be EV-D68.

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