Enterovirus D68 outbreak documented in Georgia

The rare enterovirus that has caused a surge in emergency room visits nationally has been confirmed in Georgia.

The Georgia Department of Public Health said Monday that nine cases of enterovirus D68 have been identified in the state.


“There are additional specimens and more tests pending,’’ said Nancy Nydam, a spokeswoman for Public Health.

Enterovirus D68 has been linked to clusters of respiratory illness among children and teenagers in Kansas City and Chicago.

From mid-August to September 19, a total of 160 people in 22 states were confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by D68, the CDC says.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta recently reported an unusual surge of such illnesses in children. “We are seeing a double to quadruple increase in the number of children with respiratory infections. Many of the children are school age,” Dr. Andi Shane, hospital epidemiologist at Children’s Healthcare, said earlier this month.

While doctors at Children’s Healthcare suspected early on that enterovirus D68 triggered the increase in illnesses, the official diagnosis had to wait until CDC had completed specimen tests.

There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses, causing about 10 million to 15 million infections in the United States each year, according to the CDC.

Cherie Drenzek, state epidemiologist at Public Health, said earlier this month that most enteroviruses cause a relatively mild illness.

What’s uncommon this time is the strain of enterovirus – and the number of hospitalizations.

“Hospitalizations are higher than would be expected at this time of year,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, head of infectious diseases for the CDC, said recently.

“This is a very dynamic situation, an unusual virus, and we’re just beginning to understand it,” Schuchat said.

There is no vaccine for the virus.