Windsor Regional Hospital has imposed visitor restrictions after several children were admitted with severe respiratory symptoms, possibly linked to Enterovirus D68.
Only people over the age of 18 are now allowed to visit the Metropolitan Campus’ pediatric unit.
Ron Foster, WRH’s vice president of public affairs and communication, said the hospital expects to know from Public Health Ontario within 24 to 48 hours whether any Enterovirus D68 cases are confirmed locally.
“But at this point, we’re not suspecting anything due to the fact that some of the children have been discharged,” said Foster.
The virus has been suspected in 21 states in the U.S. According to Public Health Ontario, it has been confirmed in 97 people in six states as of Sept. 12. No deaths related to the virus have been reported.
Enterovirus D68 is more common in children, especially those with asthma.
Though Foster said seven children admitted is “a bit of a spike,” it is not unusual for this time of year.
“When children start going back to school and intermingling, we will see virus-type activity through fall and into the winter,” said Foster. “This is not even referring to flu when it seasonally comes in the late fall into the winter.”
EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1968. Symptoms include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and body and muscle aches. Children with more severe cases have had trouble breathing and some wheezing.
A media release from the hospital advises parents not to send their children to school if they are ill, to avoid large crowds outside of school, wash hands and surfaces regularly and cover face when sneezing.
“Definitely if a child is showing ongoing illness, respiratory issues, seek a family physician or their pediatrician and in extreme cases do go to an emergency room,” said Foster.
Scott Scantlebury, public relations officer for the Greater Essex County District School Board, said the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit would notify the board if there was any need to take action. The board has not yet received a notice, Scantlebury said Monday morning.
He also said the people at the school board are not medical professionals and therefore haven’t advised parents on any precautions to take.
“Ultimately, it’s a parent’s choice, but they should do so with the absolute best information and that information would come from their physician or the health unit,” said Scantlebury.
Stephen Fields, Scantlebury’s counterpart at the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, said parents who think their children are contagious should contact their family doctor.
“Certainly, don’t come to the schools and risk the possibility of spreading any possible infection,” said Fields.
Scantlebury and Fields both said principals are required to report to the health unit if 10 per cent of students are absent in one day.