Area Schools Address D68 Virus Outbreak

by Loumarie I. Rodriguez | Posted: Wednesday, November 5, 2014 6:00 am

SOUTHBURY — As of Tuesday, October 28, another confirmed case of the Enterovirus D68 was confirmed in Connecticut, despite decreasing activity in the state.

Local school districts are making sure to stay on top of the issue.

Photo credit- CreativeCommons.org Washing hands (after shot)_0035 via photopin (license)

Photo credit- CreativeCommons.org Washing hands (after shot)_0035 via photopin

The Shelton school district confirmed a case of the D68 virus at Sunnyside Elementary School. The child has been hospitalized and is under observation, according to the superintendent’s office.

The elementary school has been sanitized and will be monitored.

Local school districts have been on high alert for any signs of students who may show symptoms of the virus.

Regions 12 and 15 and the Oxford school district have sent home letters informing parents administrators are aware of the problem and have been stepping up cleaning efforts.

Region 15’s letter incorporated attachments from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The letter encourages parents to make the best decision when their child is sick by keeping them home.

“The nurses are doing what they always do, which is to encourage proper hygiene practices and sending kids home if need be,” said Region 15 Superintendent Regina Botsford. “We are continuing to be diligent in our cleaning practices

“The current attendance pattern is not unusual for this time of the year.”

According to the CDC, Connecticut has declining activity for the D68 virus despite the recent case in Shelton. The state Department of Public Health has confirmed 13 cases of D68 in the state including Danbury; the patients have long been discharged from the hospital.

Photo Credit- CreativeCommons.org via photopin (license)

Photo Credit- CreativeCommons.org via photopin

Letters sent home in Region 12 and the Oxford school district highlighted the importance of washing hands or carrying hand sanitizers.

The nurses in Region 12 hosted workshops for elementary school students teaching them clean habits.

Teresa DeBrito, director of curriculum, instruction and assessment in Region 12, said younger kids need constant reminders to help them stay healthy.

The workshop taught students tips to prevent the spread of germs. The region’s nurses also did a public access TV segment regarding health tips.

“Janitors are doing their usual job of good cleaning,” said Ms. DeBrito. “They are wiping down door knobs and have good cleaning practices.”

Ms. DeBrito said if students are sent to the nurse, they are ready to report any suspicious symptoms. Currently the school district has a normal attendance pattern.

Ms. DeBrito said the current D68 virus is nothing compared to the H1N1 flu pandemic in 2009.

“There was a high level of absenteeism because of the H1N1 so the schools had to be closed in order to break the cycle,” said Ms. DeBrito.

Oxford’s letter to parents not only alerted parents of the D68 virus, but to be wary of influenza with the approaching winter months.

Photo Credit- tamiflu via photopin

Photo Credit- tamiflu

The letter suggested parents contact the Pomperaug District Department of Health, which serves Oxford, Southbury and Woodbury, regarding questions for the prevention and treatment for flu and flu-like illness.

Enterovirus D68 is only one out of 100 non-polio viruses according to the CDC. The virus can cause mild to severe respiratory illness causing a patient to wheeze or have difficulty breathing.

Mild symptoms are similar to the common cold that includes fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and muscle or body aches.

Every year D68 and the rhinoviruses cause millions of respiratory illnesses in children. Infants, children and teenagers are most at risk due to not having immunity from previous exposures to the virus.

The CDC is still collecting reports in order to better address the national trend of the virus.

There are no treatments available for the respiratory illness. Protective measures suggested by the CDC include frequent hand washing with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Other protective measures are to avoid touching, face, eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people currently ill; and disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs, toys, etc.

School districts have stressed to parents that students need to stay home if sick.

The CDC has developed a new and faster lab test for detecting D68, according to a recent press release. The test will allow for more rapid results.

Reports of paralysis symptoms are not linked to the D68 virus, according to a CDC representative.

The CDC is currently investigating the cases of paralysis symptoms originally reported in Colorado that are separate from D68.

Currently 47 states and the District of Columbia have reported cases of D68 virus with numbers still actively increasing in seven to eight states.

The CDC expects a decline of the virus in the late fall.

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