While Bay Area hospitals have been gearing up in case of the spread of Ebola, another pathogenhas hit us instead. There are now two cases of enterovirus D-68 reported in Alameda County.
The virus, which can result in severe respiratory illness, has now spread to 42 states and around 500 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Four patients who have died tested positive for the virus, although its causal role in the deaths—if any—has not yet been determined.
The local cases are two children under the age of 18, both of whom are currently recovering, according to Alameda County public health officials, who also said they were expecting more cases to reveal themselves. The virus is particularly dangerous for children with asthma or other respiratory illnesses.
Though the virus is usually not considered to be especially serious, one patient in Los Angeles suffered from limb paralysis while hospitalized. First identified in California in 1962, this strain of the virus has seen an uptick this year. The CDC recommends a number of steps to reduce risk, including washing hands frequently, sneezing and coughing into arms rather than hands, and cleaning commonly-touched surfaces.
So, don't panic, but probably go wash your hands right now. It certainly can't hurt.