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Virus found at South Butler Primary School

| Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014, 6:09 p.m.

An “identified case” of enterovirus D68 has been found at South Butler Primary School, according to the South Butler School District.

The virus can cause severe respiratory illness in children. It can cause coughing, wheezing and rashes with fever; it can pose a severe risk for those with asthma or other breathing problems.

Doctors said most infected people recover from breathing trouble and other flu-like symptoms within a couple of days.

“We really don't treat it any differently from other viruses” that appear in late summer and early fall, said Dr. Howard Nadworny, an infectious disease physician at Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie.

A South Butler spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment. A letter dated Thursday to parents and students from Superintendent Michael Leitera does not indicate the age, gender or grade level of the child diagnosed.

The letter states that, as a precaution, the district is cleaning all classroom and athletic facilities with a virucide known to be an effective disinfectant.

On Tuesday, Pennsylvania health authorities reported that four cases of enterovirus had been identified in Philadelphia, the first in the state.

Pittsburgh-based UPMC spotted eight potential D68 cases in its hospitals over the past two weeks but has yet to receive test results, spokeswoman Allison Hydzik said.

The virus turned up in 18 states since mid-August and caused at least 153 confirmed illnesses, many of them in children, according to the national Centers for Disease Control, based in Atlanta.

Doctors in the Midwest and other regions blame the virus for sickening hundreds of children and teenagers, some of whom have required intensive care.

The bug is part of the larger enterovirus family that cause 10 million to 15 million infections each year in the United States, often in the late spring and fall seasons.

Nadworny said he suspects many children are coming down with milder D68 cases that go undiagnosed.

He said there's no vaccine or treatment apart from old stand-bys: plenty of fluids, cough medicine and time.

He urged common hygiene and vaccination against a more widespread — and more severe — illness: influenza.

“Many more kids will get sick from the flu this winter, and it's preventable,” Nadworny said.

Brian C. Rittmeyer, Adam Smeltz and Luis Fábregas are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Rittmeyer can be reached at brittmeyer@tribweb.com or 724-226-4701; Smeltz at ameltz@tribweb.com or 412-380-5676 and Fábregas at lfabregas@tribweb.com or 412-320-7998.

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