A respiratory virus that has been sending children in the U.S. to hospital has arrived in Central Alberta with two confirmed cases.
Alberta Health confirmed 18 out of 100 mostly hospital cases since Sept. 1 tested positive for enterovirus D-68. Calgary had 10 cases, Edmonton had five and there was one case in Northern Alberta.
Dr. James Talbot, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said the virus is not causing concern in Alberta, but testing was undertaken because of the increased cases in the United States.
“The major concern would be if it was causing significantly increased numbers of people to show up in hospital. We’re not seeing that. The spike we have at this point is the same we’ve seen in previous years. We’re going to monitor the situation to make sure it stays that way,” Talbot said on Tuesday.
He said Alberta doesn’t routinely test for D-68, which usually causes fairly mild cold-like symptoms that last three to seven days depending on the child’s health. It can be worse for those with respiratory problems like asthma.
“In the case of an asthmatic, it could trigger a number of asthmatic attacks or make a single attack go on much longer.”
In severe cases, it causes breathing problems, wheezing, and their lips could turn blue.
Adults with respiratory problems can also be susceptible, but the virus doesn’t hit them as hard, Talbot said.
“(D-68) is something we’re monitoring. We will go back and take look at samples that we had from before Sept. 1 and try and determine how long it’s been in the province.”
He recommended parents encourage their children to wash their hands before they eat and after they’ve been in public, cover their mouth when they sneeze or cough, and discard contaminated tissues quickly. Sick children should stay out of school and day cares to prevent passing on the virus.