Indiana hospitals statewide are reporting an increase in the number of patients with respiratory illnesses, especially in children, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. It is not yet known if the increase is related to the recent surge of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) infections that have been seen in surrounding states including Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and others.

Indiana counties/Cool10191
Indiana counties/Cool10191

Enteroviruses are very common, with between 10 to 15 million cases occurring in the United States each year. Three individuals in Northern Indiana have recently tested positive for enterovirus/rhinovirus (rhinovirus is the common cold) by the State Laboratory. Further testing is needed to determine if the cases are EV-D68. There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses.

“When evaluating patients with significant respiratory illness, it’s important to test for enterovirus because it helps healthcare providers rule out other treatable illnesses, such as influenza or bacterial pneumonia, and to know what viruses are circulating,” said State Epidemiologist Pam Pontones. “Practices such as washing your hands, covering your cough and staying home when you’re sick are more important than ever to protect yourself and others.”

The State Health Department is working with local health departments and hospitals to conduct surveillance for additional cases of enterovirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) is assisting the State with testing for the EV-D68 strain.

Typically, EV-D68 causes upper respiratory illness, such as low-grade fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing and body/muscle aches. Infected individuals generally recover on their own without incident by treating symptoms.  However, some individuals, especially those with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, may experience severe complications and require hospitalization with supportive therapy.

Enteroviruses, including EV-D68, are spread through close contact with infected people. To protect you and your family from becoming infected with enterovirus or other illnesses, follow the three C’s:

  • Clean: Wash your hands frequently with warm soap and water. When this is not available use an alcohol-based hand-sanitizer.
  • Cover: Cover your cough with your sleeve or a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
  • Contain: Prevent spreading illness to others by staying home if you are sick. 

Individuals experiencing cold-like symptoms and trouble breathing should contact their healthcare provider right away.