State health departments across the country are investigating several reported cases of severe respiratory illness in children, many attributed to enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a nonpolio enterovirus that can cause mild to severe respiratory illness. Pharmacists are being called upon to provide consistent public health information and public assurance. The current public health concern is a lesson for all health care providers, including pharmacists, who may be the first to encounter a patient with symptoms that are consistent with a particular infectious disease,” said APhA Executive Vice President and CEO Thomas E. Menighan, BSPharm, MBA, ScD (Hon), FAPhA, in a statement. If a patient presents with acute, unexplained, severe respiratory illness, CDC said health care providers should consider EV-D68 as the cause and proceed with testing. EV-D68 can only be diagnosed with a specific lab test using samples from the patient’s nose and throat, which is typically done at a local or state health department. CDC said providers should also report any suspected clusters to local and state health departments that may have additional guidance for reporting. Unfortunately, no vaccine nor any antiviral medications are currently available to treat EV-D68. But patients can relieve symptoms with OTC medications for pain and fever. Aspirin should not be given to children, according to CDC guidelines. CDC guidelines also included certain measures that can go a long way to prevent the spread of EV-D68: washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds; avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding close contact such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils while sick or with people who are sick; covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not hands; cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick; and staying home if sick. Children with asthma are especially at risk for severe symptoms from EV-D68 and other respiratory illnesses. They should be particularly vigilant about control of their illness during this time, according to CDC.
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