Two of B.C.’s three enterovirus cases in Fraser region

Virus causes severe respiratory illness in children, initial cases may be 'early warning signal'

B.C. Centre for Disease Control epidemiologist Dr. Danuta Skowronski.

Three B.C. residents are the province’s first lab-confirmed cases of a virus causing severe respiratory illness in children elsewhere in North America.

Two of the B.C. cases of enterovirus D68 are children from the Fraser Health region, while the third is a young adult male from the Interior. Both Fraser cases were treated in Vancouver and have since been discharged from hospital.

Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an epidemiologist with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, said there are at least three more suspected cases and it’s likely numerous others have been exposed to the virus or may have felt only minor symptoms.

So far B.C. hospitals haven’t seen the sharp spike in respiratory illness that could be tied to the virus, which has stricken more than 130 children in a dozen U.S. states and at least 18 in Alberta.

All indicators have been within seasonal levels, Skowronski said.

“We know it’s in the community and it’s not yet associated with outbreaks,” she said.

“But this may be an early warning signal to us that what’s happening elsewhere may be upon us here in B.C.”

Enterovirus activity is seasonal – it peaks in summer and fall – so she said there’s a chance it could soon dissipate here.

Telltale symptoms of enterovirus D68 are wheezing or difficulty breathing deep in the lungs and children with past respiratory trouble, such as asthma, are believed at greater risk.

Most victims don’t have a fever, Skowronksi said, adding absence of one shouldn’t be taken by parents as a sign not to worry.

While most U.S. cases have involved very young pre-schoolers, B.C.’s first three cases are older, ranging from nine to 19 years of age.

Skowronski said the virus is not new – there have been outbreaks of it before – and variants circulate each year.

“We shouldn’t freak out,” she said, noting there have been no deaths and all patients are expected to recover.

But nor should it be dismissed, she added, because it’s causing severe illness, particularly in children, who sometimes require hospitalization and intensive care.

“This may be a particularly nasty variant circulating,” she said.

There’s no vaccine or specific treatment for enterovirus D68, leaving public health officials to stress the usual ways to prevent the spread of viruses – frequent handwashing, coughing into the elbow and staying home if sick with a suspected respiratory infection.

Regular cleaning of surfaces at home and in schools can also help limit the spread, said Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Michelle Murti.

She noted the end of the B.C. teachers strike may be a factor in the days ahead.

“Kids are going back to school now so there might be more exposure or passing of the illness,” she said. “That’s a time when more germs are spread around.”

Staff at Fraser facilities have been advised to be on alert to the virus and particularly to worsening conditions in children with a history of asthma, Murti said.

Just Posted

Search continues near Ashcroft for missing Prince George woman

Jenny Lynn Larocque’s vehicle and dog were found in Venables Valley, but there is no sign of her

U-Save property owner files six lawsuits against District of Hope

One of the lawsuits demands $6,200 to undo the work done on the roundhouse.

Rainfall warning issued across Lower Mainland into the weekend

50 to 70 mm of rain expected to fall starting overnight Friday and into Sunday morning

Husband pleads guilty in relation to 2009 killing of Kulwinder Gill

Abbotsford woman died in hit-and-run conspiracy

Raymond Lee Caissie gets life in prison for murdering Surrey teen in 2014

Judge numbers Caissie among ‘violent merciless men without a conscience’

VIDEO: Sears liquidation sales continue across B.C.

Sales are expected to continue into the New Year

Human remains found at Silver Creek property

RCMP have been searching the property in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road for the past three days

New B.C. acute care centre opens for young patients, expectant mothers

Facility aims to make B.C. Children’s Hospital visits more comfortable

Police officer hit by car, stabbed in Edmonton attack back on job

Const. Mike Chernyk, 48, returned to work Thursday

UBC medical students learn to care for Indigenous people

Students in health-related studies to take course, workshop to help better serve Aboriginal people

Dorsett has 2 goals, assist in Canucks’ 4-2 win over Sabres

‘It was a real good hockey game by our group,’ Canucks coach Travis Green said.

Berry disappointed: Bear tries to eat fake fruit on woman’s door wreath

A Winnipeg woman has taken her berry-embellished wreath down, after a hungry bear visited her porch

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Most Read