State health officials say they expect the number of confirmed enterovirus cases in South Carolina to increase over the next few weeks.
State epidemiologist Linda Bell said the only Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab which tests for the virus has a backlog from the unusually high number of cases this year. She said that means it could take weeks to confirm if additional South Carolina specimens are also positive.
“We do expect that some of those tests that are pending will become positive,” she told South Carolina Radio Network. “We want people to be aware that’s a phenomenon of the testing, it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s an alarming and unexpected increase in the disease itself.”
South Carolina is one of 38 states that have had confirmed cases of the Enterovirus D68 strain so far in 2014. More than 220 cases have been reported nationwide, all but one affecting children. Some of those children were hospitalized but none have died. State Department of Health and Environmental Control officials said two cases were confirmed in the Upstate this week, but did not give any specifics on those patients.
The CDC says this particular strain usually causes minor symptoms such as coughing, fever, running nose, sneezing, and muscle aches. However some adolescents, especially those with a history of asthma, have had problems breathing.
Bell said the symptoms are like the common cold, but get worse over time. She said those with symptoms that progressively worsen should get help.
“We want providers to be aware of the possibility (of this virus),” she said. “This is a particular strain of enterovirus that can progress on and cause more severe symptoms than a typical common cold or other respiratory infections.”
She said the typical prevention methods — such as washing your hands for 20 seconds, keeping surfaces like doorknobs and toys disinfected, and covering your mouth when you cough–can also apply to the spread of enterovirus.