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Doctor Separates Enterovirus Facts From Hype

PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio1020 KDKA) - Enterovirus D68, a rare respiratory illness, has been confirmed in 140 people across 16 states. Pennsylvania is now one of those states with cases confirmed in Philadelphia and Erie.

Since the illness is so rare and the symptoms could be misconstrued for the common cold, people are on high alert. But should we panic every time someone around us sneezes or coughs?

Dr. Richard Saladino, chief of Emergency Medicine at Children's Hospital, joined Bill Rehkopf on the KDKA Afternoon News to help set the record on EV-D68 straight.

"I think it's a bit famous right now because it's an old virus that is making a new appearance, but at the same time, we've seen surges in respiratory illness in the fall and winter before all around the country including influenza, H1N1 a few years ago. So, in a sense, although this is a big deal, it's really no different from many other winters where we see a lot of respiratory illness," Dr. Saladino said.

Symptoms of the virus, according to the Center for Disease Control, could include runny nose, fever, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches. Dr. Saladino says most of what they are seeing is a mild to moderate illness, but that doesn't meant parents shouldn't be on the look out if symptoms worsen.

"Be vigilant for signs of more severe disease, so more respiratory distress such as rapid breathing, high fever, wheezing. In those cases, their primary care provider is an excellent resource to help them make decisions as to how to care for their child, and if need be... the symptoms become more severe, they can certainly come to an emergency department," Dr. Saladino said.

The CDC reports that the people who are most at risk for this illness are infants, children and teenagers. In order to be diagnosed with Enterovirus D68 it must be confirmed by the CDC.

"We do not have any confirmed cases here at Children's," Dr. Saladino said. "Although, we have sent several specimens to the Center's for Disease Control, but we don't have confirmation yet."

Dr. Saladino tells the KDKA Afternoon News that some children can power through a respiratory virus in three to four days, but most symptoms linger for a week. He says some may even show symptoms such as coughing for a few weeks, it all just depends on how ones body responds to a virus.

You can hear the whole interview with Dr. Saladino here:

Dr. Richard Saladino On Enterovirus D68

Also be sure to catch the KDKA Afternoon News weekdays 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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