New Orleans health officials monitor enterovirus 68

Health officials in Rhode Island say a 10-year-old girl was in good health before being rushing to the hospital with enterovirus 68.

The girl died last week, and now the CDC is investigating how the virus may have played a role in three other deaths.

The CDC says the virus has sickened more than 500 people nationwide in the past few months.

The protection methods sound the same as a common cold: "Hand washing, hand washing, and then more hand washing," said Dr. Peter DeBlieux of Interim LSU Hospital.

However, the symptoms of enterovirus 68 can be very different for those with pre-existing lung conditions.

"Children in particular with chronic lung problems, things like cystic fibrosis and asthma, are at greatest risk for the enterovirus and the complications associated with that," said DeBlieux.

Health officials said the Rhode Island girl was rushed to the hospital with both the enterovirus and a bacterial infection. Rhode Island health officials said the combination of the two illnesses is what overwhelmed her.

"This is something that has been on our radar and information flowing down to us through CDC and the state and passing it down to our healthcare partners on what to look for, being aware what's going on with it, what they should be looking for in kids," said New Orleans Medical Director Charlotte Parent.

Two cases of the virus showed up in Baton Rouge. It has not been found in the New Orleans area, but Parent said they're closely monitoring the spread.

"Our role is to do as much as we can to give the information out and prepare the public and prepare the people providing the services with the information and the right information to do the work," said Parent.

Doctors say most kids infected with the virus will get only a runny nose and low-grade fever. Still, they say to keep kids home from school to prevent the spread of the disease and to make sure the sickness doesn't get worse.

"If the symptoms get more severe - they progress to moderate - and the symptoms last longer than a week and there's a fever, take your child to the doctor," said Health Educator Dr. Eric Briggs. "And if your child starts wheezing, if your child starts having difficulty breathing or gasping for air, or blue lips, take them immediately to the emergency room for supportive care."

Doctors say the virus spreads the same way the flu does. So, wash your hands at least five times a day to protect yourself and your kids from the virus.

Click here for more information from the CDC.

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