Enterovirus Confirmed in 2 Bay Area Counties: Health Department Officials

Two Bay Area counties have confirmed cases of enterovirus, health officials said Thursday.

Medical tests show two people have tested positive for a strain of enterovirus, the Alameda County Public Health Department confirmed on Thursday. Solano County public health officials on Thursday also confirmed the first reported case of enterovirus D-68 (EV-D68) in a school-age child in their county.

“The child suffered from mild symptoms and was not hospitalized.” Solano County Health Officer Dr. Bela Matyas said. "It is not surprising that we have a case of EV-D68 in Solano County given that there are multiple cases in various parts of the country. We expect to see more cases as the virus is widespread and is present in our community."

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Children commonly contract the disease, which is exacerbated when they already have asthma or upper respiratory issues.

This strain, EV–D68, was first discovered in California in 1962.

“Enterovirus is a category of virus," said Melinda Krigel, spokeswoman for UCSF Children’s Benioff Children’s Hospital at Oakland. "It’s a particular strain that’s obviously affecting some children very strongly. It’s heavier than normal this season and started a little earlier."

While there is there is no vaccine for the virus, there are inhalers to ease breathing, Krigel said, and fatalities from the virus are quite rare.

As of Wednesday, there were 500 known cases confirmed in 42 states, including seven cases in California, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Alameda County Public Health Department. Six cases are in Southern California, and the remaining one is in Northern California. But as doctors noted, the cases in California are "quite low" relatively speaking.

Samples from four people who recently died tested positive for the enterovirus EV–D68 strain, though it's unclear whether the virus played a role in their deaths, the CDC said. The agency estimates 10 to 15 million people are infected each year.

The virus causes symptoms that are similar to the cold or flu. There are more than 100 types of the virus, some of which are very mild.

The virus spreads through an infected person's saliva, nasal mucus or sputum, according to the CDC. Most people get infected in the summer and fall, and doctors can only diagnose the disease through lab tests.

There is no specific treatment for the virus. But symptoms can be relieved through over-the-counter medications for pain and fever – aspirin should not be given to children, the CDC warned. The best way to prevent the virus, health officials say, is to wash your hands.

NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez, Stephanie Chuang and Riya Bhattacharjee contributed to this report.

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