Windsor hospital administrators have blocked children from visiting pediatric patients because of concerns that a rare respiratory virus may have moved from the U.S. into their city.
The number of possible cases almost doubled on Tuesday – jumping from 11 on the weekend to 20, hospital spokesperson Ron Foster said in an interview.
There were another five possible cases last Thursday and Friday.
Foster said in an interview that it will take a week or more for testing to confirm if the Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) has reached Ontario.
“There is no confirmation that it’s the virus,” Foster said.
It appeared things had leveled off on Monday, but then there were nine fresh suspected cases on Tuesday, Foster said.
The first wave of suspected cases concerned mostly children under five years old but the new ones include teenagers.
“It’s a wide demographic, from under 5 to the teenagers,” Foster said.
The visiting restrictions apply to people 18 years of age or older at the hospital’s Met Campus, which has 20 beds for children and 280 beds overall.
“Only in extraordinary case-by-case circumstances will this restriction be waived,” says a bulletin posted on the Windsor Regional Hospital’s website on Sunday.
Health officials sometimes refer to the “September Spike,” when children return to schools.
“At the start of school, it’s typical because kids mingle, cluster,” Foster said.
There are no vaccines for preventing EV-D68 infections, which cause mild to severe respiratory problems, along with fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.
It most commonly infects infants, children, and teenagers and is spread by coughing, sneezing or touching contaminated surfaces.
It’s particularly tough for children with asthma.
People can protect themselves and others by coughing or sneezing into their sleeves, washing their hands often with soap, avoiding close contact with people who are sick and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces like toys and doorknobs.
“Since people with asthma are higher risk for respiratory illnesses, they should regularly take medicines and maintain control of their illness during this time,” a bulletin from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. “They should also take advantage of influenza vaccine since people with asthma have a difficult time with respiratory illnesses.”
The CDC notes that there have been 104 cases of EV-D68 from mid-August to mid-September in Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, and New York.
Foster said the virus has also reportedly hit Alberta.
The CDC says EV-D68 is more likely to infect people in the summer and fall.
“We’re currently in middle of the Enterovirus season, and EV-D68 infections are likely to decline later in the fall,” the CDC bulletin says.