RI children being tested for enterovirus 68

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Several children in Rhode Island are being tested for a rare respiratory illness that’s spreading through a number of other states.

Enterovirus 68 has sickened dozens of kids across the country, and state health officials want to know if children in Rhode Island are affected.

The virus is very similar to a common September cold, but it’s a rare strain and doctors are keeping a watchful eye on.

“We did see an uptick in more respiratory complaints this weekend, more so than this time last year, and more than expected, so it’s something we’re going to track very closely,” said Dr. James McDonald from the RI Department of Health.

Dr. McDonald said enterovirus itself is quite common, but the strain going around is rare, and causing respiratory problems in kids.

“The population that’s most at risk are children, particularly children who have a pre-existing condition like asthma, are likely to go on to have wheezing,” Dr. McDonald explained. “Some of them have had a harder time with this and wind up in the hospital or even the intensive care unit.”

There hasn’t been a case detected in Rhode Island so far, but the state is testing to see.

“We have sent some specimens to the CDC to see if they are the enteroviral strain that we’re interested in, but it will take a little bit of time before we know the answer to that question.”

Doctors said to treat the virus like any type of cold. If you don’t feel well – stay home, go to a doctor, and always wash your hands.

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