The virus commonly causes a variety of mild symptoms, such as coughing, running nose or trouble breathing. But Enterovirus D68, which is only one type of virus within a larger group that cause similar symptoms, is sometimes associated with severe neurological problems, including muscle weakness and meningitis.
Enterovirus D68 has recently been connected to clusters of confirmed outbreaks of respiratory illness among children in California, Colorado, B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
This week, McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, Ont., confirmed they are testing four patients suspected of contracting the virus. Since Aug. 28, there have been 139 confirmed cases in the Hamilton area. Alberta health officials are also currently investigating four cases of paralysis in children that may be linked to EV-D68.
In a statement to CBC News, SickKids declined to reveal when test results are expected, but did offer some advice to parents who might be concerned about the virus.
“If your child is recovering from a respiratory illness but then suddenly develops a new fever, or difficulty breathing you should seek medical attention,” the statement read.
“The best way to protect yourself and your children against enteroviruses is to wash your hands regularly with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer.”