A young  adult male who died last week was confirmed positive for Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), according to British Columbia Public Health Microbiology & Reference Laboratory (PHMRL) Thursday.

British Columbia Image/EOZyo
British Columbia

Health officials note that the patient had a history of severe asthma and developed respiratory failure in hospital. It is unknown to what extent EV-D68 infection caused or contributed to this death.

In a statement by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Gregory Taylor, he said, “Most adults and children who get EV-D68 will have only mild symptoms similar to the common cold, such as coughing and sneezing and will recover quickly.

“Parents of young children with respiratory conditions like asthma should monitor their children closely if they develop cold-like symptoms. This year EV-D68 may cause more serious illness, such as difficulty breathing, in children and young adults with asthma. If you are worried about your child, I encourage you to contact your healthcare provider.”

As of October 16, 2014, the BC provincial laboratory has confirmed 36 cases of enterovirus D68. Of the 36, seven cases were in patients 15 year and older.

In the United States, at least seven patients who died were lab confirmed for EV-D68, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Three deaths were previously reported during outbreaks in the Philippines in 2008-2009 and Japan in 2010.

Related: Enterovirus D68 cases nearly double in Alberta

There have also been reports of a very small number of children with EV-D68 experiencing paralysis, which is the loss of the ability to move a part of the body. At this point, no definitive link has been made between EV-D68 and paralysis. More research is needed to determine if the cases of paralysis being reported are caused by EV-D68 or by other factors.

Dr Taylor closed his statement saying, “The best way to protect yourself and your family is to keep your hands clean, cough into your sleeve and stay home when sick. There is no vaccine or specific treatment for EV-D68.”

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