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Enterovirus D-68 could be cause of surge of admissions at Ontario hospital

09/15/2014 08:05 EDT | Updated 11/15/2014 05:59 EST
Windsor Regional Hospital in southwestern Ontario has seen a sudden surge of young patients with severe respiratory issues.

The children affected are mostly younger than five years old.

Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj told CBC Windsor Morning host Tony Doucette that more than 10 children have been treated since Thursday, so the hospital is restricting visitation in its pediatric ward. Only adults aged 18 or older are allowed access.

Musyj said some children are being discharged, while others have been admitted. One child was sent to London, Ont., for further treatment.

"It’s not typical to see that many suffering from the same issues all at once," Musyj said.

Link to U.S. enterovirus uncertain

Musyj said staff are not sure if enterovirus D-68 is to blame — the virus is currently affecting thousands of children in the United States.

A blood test would be required to make that determination. He said he's waiting on the province to decide whether blood tests should be administered.

"It is viral, so they're being treated with some oxygen, with some breathing help," Musyj said. "It doesn’t matter what it’s called as long as you treat the symptoms.”

Dan Hewitt's four-year-old daughter spent a night in the hospital last week.

“She had a fever and a lot of trouble breathing that seemed to be getting worse, and not better. She had even collapsed at one point and we had to carry her," Hewitt said, adding that she was admitted immediately.

Starts like a cold

Musyj said the virus begins with symptoms of the common cold, but they "increase rapidly. That’s what the concern is with this virus."

Musyj is reminding the public that the emergency room is for “just that: emergencies.”

He said the hospital will be speaking with the Windsor-Essex County Public Health Unit this week about the recent influx of cases.

There are concerns in other parts of Canada as well:

- Saskatchewan's chief medical health officer is advising parents to be aware of a respiratory virus that may be linked to dozens of cases of sick children in the U.S.

- Alberta Health Services says it has seen a spike in "respiratory-related admissions" at the Alberta Children's Hospital since the end of August.

On Friday, U.S. President Barack  Obama was briefed about cases of a respiratory illness being reported in the Midwest.

Public health officials are monitoring a high number of reports of illness associated with human enterovirus 68 in Iowa, Kansas, Ohio and elsewhere.

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