State health officials recently announced that four Lake County children have been confirmed as having had enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), a respiratory illness which can be serious in individuals with underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, according to an Indiana State Department of Health press release.

The individuals were treated at University of Chicago Hospital and were previously thought to be residents of Illinois. All four children have been discharged from the hospital.

ISDH officials are working with local health departments and hospitals to conduct surveillance for additional cases of EV-D68. Testing is being conducted at the state laboratory. Last week, state health officials announced a higher than expected level of respiratory illness statewide for this time of year.

Indiana joins several other states in this multi-state outbreak, including Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and others. Enteroviruses are very common, with between 10-15 million cases occurring in the United States each year. There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses.

Typically, EV-D68 causes upper respiratory illness, such as low-grade fever, cough, runny nose, sneezing and body/muscle aches. Infected individuals generally recover on their own without incident by treating symptoms. However, some individuals, especially those with weakened immune systems or underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, may experience severe complications and require hospitalization with supportive therapy.

The viruses are spread through close contact with infected people. Health officials recommend these tips to prevent the spread of infection:

• Clean – Wash hands frequently with warm soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is not effective in preventing the spread of EV-D68;

• Cover – Cover coughs and sneezes with sleeves or tissues;

• Contain - Prevent spreading illness to others by staying home if you are sick;

• Avoid close contact and sharing cups or eating utensils with those who are ill; and 

• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

Individuals experiencing cold-like symptoms and trouble breathing should contact their health care provider right away.

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