Two of B.C.’s three enterovirus cases in Fraser region

Virus causes severe respiratory illness in children, initial cases may be 'early warning signal'

B.C. Centre for Disease Control epidemiologist Dr. Danuta Skowronski.

Three B.C. residents are the province’s first lab-confirmed cases of a virus causing severe respiratory illness in children elsewhere in North America.

Two of the B.C. cases of enterovirus D68 are children from the Fraser Health region, while the third is a young adult male from the Interior. Both Fraser cases were treated in Vancouver and have since been discharged from hospital.

Dr. Danuta Skowronski, an epidemiologist with the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, said there are at least three more suspected cases and it’s likely numerous others have been exposed to the virus or may have felt only minor symptoms.

So far B.C. hospitals haven’t seen the sharp spike in respiratory illness that could be tied to the virus, which has stricken more than 130 children in a dozen U.S. states and at least 18 in Alberta.

All indicators have been within seasonal levels, Skowronski said.

“We know it’s in the community and it’s not yet associated with outbreaks,” she said.

“But this may be an early warning signal to us that what’s happening elsewhere may be upon us here in B.C.”

Enterovirus activity is seasonal – it peaks in summer and fall – so she said there’s a chance it could soon dissipate here.

Telltale symptoms of enterovirus D68 are wheezing or difficulty breathing deep in the lungs and children with past respiratory trouble, such as asthma, are believed at greater risk.

Most victims don’t have a fever, Skowronksi said, adding absence of one shouldn’t be taken by parents as a sign not to worry.

While most U.S. cases have involved very young pre-schoolers, B.C.’s first three cases are older, ranging from nine to 19 years of age.

Skowronski said the virus is not new – there have been outbreaks of it before – and variants circulate each year.

“We shouldn’t freak out,” she said, noting there have been no deaths and all patients are expected to recover.

But nor should it be dismissed, she added, because it’s causing severe illness, particularly in children, who sometimes require hospitalization and intensive care.

“This may be a particularly nasty variant circulating,” she said.

There’s no vaccine or specific treatment for enterovirus D68, leaving public health officials to stress the usual ways to prevent the spread of viruses – frequent handwashing, coughing into the elbow and staying home if sick with a suspected respiratory infection.

Regular cleaning of surfaces at home and in schools can also help limit the spread, said Fraser Health medical health officer Dr. Michelle Murti.

She noted the end of the B.C. teachers strike may be a factor in the days ahead.

“Kids are going back to school now so there might be more exposure or passing of the illness,” she said. “That’s a time when more germs are spread around.”

Staff at Fraser facilities have been advised to be on alert to the virus and particularly to worsening conditions in children with a history of asthma, Murti said.

Just Posted

Tourism Chilliwack brings home industry award of excellence

Sto:lo Welcome Figures carving project outside the Visitor Centre loomed large in the win

UPDATE: Dying days for 25-bed mental health facility on Chilliwack/Abbotsford border

Closure of Mountain View criticized by NDP in opposition but hasn’t reversed Fraser Health decision

B.C’s Indigenous tourism sector takes centre stage in Chilliwack

One-day workshop will look at ways to embue the industry with authenticity

IIO seeks witness in Dodge Ram who may have seen fatality after Taser incident in Chilliwack

Second police watchdog release of vehicle images asking for driver/occupant to make contact

Lower Mainland could see spring flurries

Snow expected at higher elevations

Vancouver Aquarium’s resident octopus released into ocean

Staff let the Giant Pacific octopus go into the waters near Bowen Island so she can reproduce

‘Not well thought out:’ Arizona family slams B.C. speculation tax

American family spends half the year in vacation home on Vancouver Island

Family of B.C. wildfire victim wants better emergency preparedness for vulnerable people

Williams Lake’s David Jeff “fell through the cracks”

Senate backs bill to legalize recreational marijuana

Justin Trudeau reminded senators that his government was elected on a promise to legalize pot

Where Canadians buy real estate abroad: report

Hot Spots: Top 30 home-buying destinations for Canadians in the Americas

Ban on grizzly bear hunt, new rules take effect April 1

Taxidermists, tanners will have to report on any grizzly bears or parts brought to them

Ontario father grief stricken over murder of ex-wife and children

‘No words to explain,’ grieving father of slain teens says in statement

LISTEN: Retired broadcaster gives voice to Fraser Valley history

Heritage buff Mark Forsythe introduces Valley Voices, a podcast featuring local history.

Russian Embassy calls Trudeau’s criticism of Putin unproductive

The Russian Embassy is firing back at Trudeau for criticizing President Vladimir Putin

Most Read