Hundreds of children throughout Chicago, IL and Kansas City, MO have gotten sick from a rare respiratory virus, and health officials believe it may have affected people in about a dozen other states. Known as Enterovirus D68, it's a viral strain normally associated with the common cold. Although the majority of people have only gotten ill with symptoms akin to having a bad cold, kids who have asthma and other respiratory ailments are more likely to require hospitalization because of the virus.
A Snapshot of Who's Gotten Sick
More than 500 kids have been treated at Children's Mercy Hospital for severe respiratory illnesses. Furthermore, at the end of last month, nine of 25 total patients in the pediatric intensive care unit at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital appeared to have the virus. Many who were diagnosed had other issues that could put them at high-risk. The average age of the patients was four years old. However, there were also sick children as young as six weeks of age, up to 16 years old.
No Special Precautions to Take
Health officials say no deaths have been reported, and the usual precautions to prevent the spread of illness like washing hands thoroughly and avoiding sharing utensils with sick people apply in this case too. However, if you have a child with asthma who's feeling under the weather, it's a good idea to be proactive and make a doctor's appointment, especially since this virus is known to present itself more severely in kids with respiratory problems.
If a child in your household has asthma, now is a great time to work with his or her healthcare provider to come up with a health management plan to reduce flare-ups and the severity of symptoms experienced while at school.
It’s important to do this for a couple of reasons: Firstly, having such a plan should make it easier for your child to fully participate in school activities. Furthermore, scientists from Northwestern University recently completed a study that suggests school systems are not adequately prepared to help kids deal with asthma attacks.
As a parent, you can be proactive by providing the necessary information to school administrators, and equipping them with insight about your child’s diagnosis.
Specifics of the Study
Chronic medical conditions affect up to a quarter of American children, and asthma is among the most common issues. However, researchers looked at data from students attending Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third-largest school system in the United States. They found only one in four students with asthma had a health management plan on file at school. Minority groups and students from low-income families were less likely to submit plans to schools.
Creating a Plan
A health management plan should always be made with the guidance of your child’s doctor. Some of the things it might contain include descriptions of what triggers your child’s asthma, the medications or devices used to help manage the condition, and advice about when to seek emergency care.
You probably spent a great deal of time helping your child pick out new clothes and school supplies for the current academic year. Put the same amount of importance on making sure school officials know what to do to help your child manage asthma issues.