HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- At least ten children have been admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Hospital within the last 48 hours with acute respiratory illness. Doctors are monitoring the children, who ranged in age from two to ten years old, to determine whether they were sick with Enterovirus EV-D68.
Test results are expected to come back in two days, Chief Medical Officer of Pediatrics and Vice President of Children’s Services for Bon Secours Virginia Health System Dr. William Lennarz said. He added all of the patients admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital experienced a sudden onset of wheezing, high fever and pneumonia like symptoms.
"This is the time of year we see viral respiratory infections in large numbers in pediatrics, starting now and going through the end of the winter. Whether this particular cluster of admissions turns out to be this specific virus or another, the good news is the precautions you take are the same," Dr. Lennarz said.
Parents should stress the importance of hand washing to their children, remind kids not to share drinks and be extra vigilant for signs of respiratory distress especially if your kids are asthmatic.
"The State Health Department has shared that there may be an increased risk in children with Asthma. We want parents of asthmatic children to watch closely and have their rescue medication at hand," Dr. Lennarz said. "Be tuned into the signs and symptoms of respiratory distress."
Other significant symptoms to watch out for include hard and fast breathing and high fever.
Ten states have contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help investigating clusters of the virus that’s being blamed for the illness.
The virus has sent more than 30 children a day to a Kansas City, Missouri, hospital, where about 15 percent of the youngsters were placed in intensive care, officials said.
Dr. Lennarz said if parents notice the symptoms have come on rather suddenly, it is best to take their child to the emergency room. Three of the children treated at St. Mary’s Hospital were listed in critical, but stable condition.
A spokeswoman for HCA Virginia (which includes Chippenham Hospital, Henrico Doctors' Hospital and Johnston-Willis) said there have been no reports of the virus on its facilities. VCU Medical Center has not yet responded to our inquiries.
The Virginia Department of Health said it was monitoring the situation and added the report at St. Mary's Hospital was the second known cluster reported in Central Virginia. It would not release details about the other cluster citing medical privacy laws.
This is a developing story.