Oklahoma Department Of Health Testing For Widespread Respiratory Virus

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OKLAHOMA (KFSM) – A widespread respiratory virus known as human enterovirus 68 has affected hundreds of young children across the U.S., and now Oklahoma officials are testing some patients for the virus, authorities say.

The respiratory virus has already sent dozens of children in Colorado to intensive care units at various hospitals, according to CBS.

Although cases of the virus have been confirmed in other states like Missouri, none have been confirmed yet in Oklahoma, according to Laurence Burnsed, head of the communicable disease division of the Oklahoma Department of Health.

That said, the Oklahoma Department of Health has received inquiries from Oklahoma hospitals and other health officials to help test patients for possible cases human enterovirus 68, Burnsed said.

Human enterovirus 68 has been around for decades, but it’s catching national attention now because it is an uncommon virus, according to Burnsed.

The fact that the condition is a virus means that it can’t be treated with antibiotics. Instead, doctors treat the symptoms of enterovirus, Burnsed said. The severity of the symptoms vary from person to person because every body is different, but very young children and children with asthma may have a higher risk of severe symptoms, according to Burnsed.

What has some people worried is that the virus presents the same symptoms as the common cold, fever, aches, and chills. Then, things can escalate to severe breathing trouble, Burnsed said.

The Oklahoma Department of Health said that the spread of the virus can be prevented by following simple tips like washing hands with soap, avoiding close contact with sick people and people who are sick staying home so they don’t spread what they have.

If a person has cold symptoms that grow severe, they are encouraged by the Oklahoma Department of Health to seek medical attention.