This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website and the Southern Chester County Weeklies‘ website.
A check on Friday with most of the other school districts in Chester County did not reveal any additional reported cases of EV-D68. Chester County Health Department officials say not only are there no confirmed cases in the county but they haven’t confirmed the Unionville case.
Dave Listman, the Communications Coordinator for the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District, on Thursday spoke more about the virus which while not unheard of, has not been prevalent in recent years.
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“What we learned from what was online at the Health Services and the CDC is that it’s a virus. At the end of the day, it’s mostly sneezing and coughing as the big things and so, reiterating to the students, cough into your sleeves rather than your hands, keep your hands clean – that’s the biggie,” said Listman. “Then surfaces, like doorknobs and desktops, having the teachers be diligent about that and then the nightly crew, it’s basically, ‘Hey, make sure this is something you do right now – all the doorknobs, all the surfaces, take the sanitizer and make sure you cover that every night.’
“There were some calls (from parents) to the high school and some concerns,” he added. “Chester County put out an alert and in there, it had the FAQ and that’s what we sent out to the parents. We just sort of went through that again. It’s a virus, the student is not in the building, it’s not a deadly virus and if you ever see any symptoms, here’s some things to do right away. A couple parents who had some questions we dealt with and they seem to be okay.”
Listman said he sent a list of FAQs all parents in the district Monday and all the teachers in the district.
“It seems to us like a worst case of the flu, so you need to get with a doctor and you need to take care of that,” he said.
The Unionville high school case is the first public announcement in Chester County of a student coming down with the virus. The local case was confirmed Wednesday evening by Listman.
The Associated Press reported four children tested positive for the virus and are being treated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, is a non-polio enterovirus first identified in California in 1962. The respiratory illness has rarely been seen in the United States until this year, when hospitals in the Midwest began reporting more cases than usual.
Children, from 6 weeks up to 16-years-old, are most likely to get infected with the disease. Those with asthma or who have a history of wheezing are at a higher risk for hospitalization than others, according to a health alert released by the Chester County Health Department on Sept. 11.
From mid-August until Sept. 17, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said there have been a total of 140 people in 16 states, including Pennsylvania, confirmed to have EV-D68.
The virus is spread from the infected person through coughs, sneezes or contaminating a surface by touching it.
At this time, there is no specific treatment for anyone with EV-D68, but some mild symptoms can be relieved through over-the-counter medications for pain and fever. If a person has a severe respiratory illness, they may need to be hospitalized, according to the CDC.
To avoid the virus, the CDC urges people to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands; avoid hugging, kissing and sharing cups or eating utensils with someone who is sick; and frequently disinfect any touched surfaces, including toys.
Because the symptoms of EV-D68 are similar to other viruses, the CDC recommends contacting your doctor if you are having trouble breathing or if symptoms get worse.