Doctors: Number of Central Va. kids with Enterovirus symptoms waning

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RICHMOND, Va. -- Doctors said the number of children with symptoms of Enterovirus D-68, the respiratory illness has infected children in 40 states, appears to be going down in Central Virginia.

According to the head of Pediatrics at Bon Secours Saint Mary's Hospital, 140 patients have been admitted over the past three weeks with respiratory illnesses. Sixty-six of those patients ended up in the intensive car unit and eight were diagnosed with Enterovirus D-68.

"We didn't know what the impact would be in Virginia," said Dr. William Lennarz, the chief medical officer of pediatrics at Bon Secours St. Mary's Hospital. "But we certainly knew that there was a likelihood we could experience the same kind of outbreak."

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Lennarz said the virus mainly affects kids that can start from a common cold, but can quickly cause breathing problems. In some severe cases, Lennarz said patients have suffered from paralysis.

"What we have is run to our sicker kids," Lennarz said. "The ones going into ICU and the Step down unit. We've run a screening test for Enterovirus of any type."

However, there have been no reported cases like that in Virginia.

Doctors said kids should constantly wash their hands with soap and water.

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That's something 8-year-old Samantha Simmons does everyday to avoid getting sick.

"When I get sick and I wheeze and I cough. It hurts my throat and it really hurts me a lot," Samantha explained.

Mary Lewis, Samantha's mother, said she has been relatively lucky so far this school year compared to other parents. On the other hand, she does worry about her youngest daughter.

"Normally, when this weather changes. She's on the borderline of bronchitis-asthma," Lewis said.

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That's why Lewis keeps a close eye on her because doctors said she is more likely to experience systems similar to the Enterovirus.

"If she gets a fever, I don't sent her to school. I think that's the main thing is what the kids get sick do not send them to school," said Lewis.

Doctors said they are still seeing two to four patients a day compared to two weeks ago. That's when the numbers peaked 10 to 14 patients a day.

Additionally, doctors have seen patients ranging in age from 1 to 10 years old and from as far away as Charlottesville and Fredericksburg.

As for treatment, doctors said some of those patients have been given oxygen, asthma-type medicines and antibiotics. But each is determined on a case-by-case basis.

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