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

Kindergarten building survives move to Tashme property

Historic Japanese internment camp building near Hope to be completed by end of 2020

Man charged with stealing Chief Dan George sculpture from Abbotsford school

Piece turned up in Mission pawn shop after Chilliwack artist noticed it missing this summer

New real-time location technology coming soon to Fraser Valley buses

Waiting riders will be able to see location of their bus using their phones

Harrison Festival releases line-up for fall season

The 31st annual Season of Performing Arts will be kicking off Oct. 18

Hope firefighter receives commendation for 50 years of service

Fred Robinson began his career on Vancouver Island, still working hard

VIDEO: Liberals make child care pledge, Greens unveil platform on Day 6 of campaign

Green party leader Elizabeth May unveils her party’s platform in Toronto

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

Guilty plea in Lower Mainland break-and-enter spree

Gordon Vincent Gladstone, 42, was charged with 12 counts relating to a dozen incidents in late 2018

Vancouver police officer hit with bear spray mid-arrest

Officer had been trying to arrest a woman wanted province-wide

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

Chilliwack’s Belle Voci brings three-day a cappella festival to Fraser Valley

Singers will learn from two of Lower Mainland’s best music leaders at Belle Voci A Cappella Festival

Most Read