Parents Beware: Lingering Cold That Includes Wheezing Could Be Enterovirus

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—It’s already been widespread in parts of the Midwest and now Maryland has its first confirmed case of enterovirus d68.

Derek Valcourt explains children are most at risk from this illness that has already hospitalized hundreds across the country.

If you’ve been sick recently, it’s possible you’ve had this virus and not even known it. Health officials say they’re only testing on those who’ve become seriously ill.

“I was wheezing a lot,” said Drew Ratajczak, 9 years old.

When little Drew started feeling sick two weeks ago, doctors told his mom it was just a cold. But things got worse.

“He started coughing, and I noticed he was getting blue around his mouth, and he was wheezing. I could hear him from across the room,” said Brandi Ratajczak, mother.

Tests confirmed mom’s suspicions. It was enterovirus d68.

Related Story: First Case Of Enterovirus Confirmed In Maryland

A rarer form of a common respiratory illness that at first presents as a regular cold with symptoms like fever, runny nose, sneezing and coughing, and in some cases wheezing and trouble breathing, which can be especially dangerous and even deadly for kids with asthma like Drew.

In the last 24 hours, Maryland and Ohio have joined dozens of other states where enterovirus d68 cases have already been confirmed,

“These last few weeks we’ve seen a rapid increase in kids with asthma coming in with wheezing, kids who haven’t wheezed in years now wheezing,” said Dr. Allison Kirk, GBMC.

Pediatric doctors like GBMC’s Allison Kirk suspect here in Maryland there have been many more cases of the virus than have been reported.

So, why is it that we are just now getting a confirmed case if it’s already been here for a while?

“Like most respiratory viruses, the vast majority of kids do fine. They get a little bit of wheezing, they get medicine, they’re better. It’s only the more severe cases, usually the ones in our ICU, that we’re even testing for,” Kirk said.

All the more reason why doctors say parents need to be on alert for common colds that seem to linger and turn sneezing into wheezing.

Lots of handwashing, plenty of liquids and keeping sick kids home from school are the best precautions against spreading the illness.

There is no vaccine available to treat or prevent the enterovirus.

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