Seattle lab is testing for fast-moving virus that has sickened hundreds of kids in Midwest
SEATTLE — The start of school may be helping to spread a serious virus that is sending hundreds of kids to the hospital in the Midwest, and doctors say it could be heading to the Northwest.
Health officials in 10 states are reporting cases of Enterovirus 68, which is highly contagious.
“We think this virus is likely to make it to the Northwest,” said Dr. Keith Jerome, head of the Virology Division at UW Medical Center. “It seems to be affecting a lot of people so we`re making preparations now.”
Those preparations at UW Medical Center include a lab that can test for Enterovirus 68.
“The testing that we do here is for about 20 different viruses that can all affect the lungs and airways,” said Jerome. “And that way we can tell patients and doctors what virus they have so they can be treated appropriately.”
There is no real treatment for Enterovirus, but the test can rule out other dangerous viruses like the flu. Doctors say it hits hard, and takes about a week to recover. It is particularly tough on kids who have asthma and other respiratory problems.
Doctors say prevention is still the best bet, and the same rules apply to this as they do with colds or the flu. Keep your hand away from your face, wash your hands frequently, and clean surfaces that are frequently used.
The Seattle School District is also making those recommendations to parents, and says its nurses are watching for high absenteeism in schools.