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South Dakota Health Officials Watching For Enterovirus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, September 11, 2014
CONTACT:  Lon Kightlinger, (605) 773-3737 


South Dakota Health Officials Watching For Enterovirus


PIERRE, S.D. – The Department of Health today received specimens from several suspect cases of the enterovirus EV-D68 and submitted them to CDC for testing, says a state health official. The specimens come from 14 individuals from across the state that range in age from two weeks to 19 years.


“Enteroviruses are very common. The D68 strain is less commonly reported but neighboring states have reported cases in this current outbreak so it’s not unexpected that South Dakota could see a case,” said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, state epidemiologist for the Department of Health. “Most people infected with an enterovirus have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but for some, the infection can be serious, particularly for infants, children and teenagers.”


There are more than 100 different types of enteroviruses that cause an estimated 10 to 15 million infections every year. Hospitals and state health labs do test for enteroviruses but most do not do the specialized testing necessary to distinguish individual strains such as EV-D68.


There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections, but supportive care may be necessary, and neither specific anti-viral medications nor a vaccine is currently available for it.


Kightlinger said people can help protect themselves from this and other respiratory viruses by avoiding close contact with sick people, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces like toys and doorknobs, and washing hands frequently with soap and water. Hand sanitizer is only minimally effective against enteroviruses.


“State law doesn’t require EV-D68 or other enterovirus cases to be reported to the department,” said Kightlinger. “But since the increase in cases nationally, the department has encouraged South Dakota medical providers to report any clusters or outbreaks of unexplained respiratory illnesses.”


More information about EV-D68 and other enteroviruses can be found on the CDC website at www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus.   


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Strengthening South Dakota’s response to current and emerging health threats is a key objective of the department’s 2020 initiative.