As a respiratory virus continues to send hundreds of children to hospitals across the Midwest, health officials from the city of Chicago and the Chicago Public Schools have some advice to help students stay healthy.
Public health experts are putting out the warning about the EV-D68 virus. There are 11 confirmed cases in Chicago.
CPS Chief Health Officer Dr. Stephanie Whyte had a simple message for parents and public school students: If children are experiencing symptoms such as fever, runny nose, and especially wheezing and shortness of breath, they should stay home.
“Students who experience symptoms are being asked to stay home to avoid getting other classmates ill, and if persistent and severe seek medical attention,” Dr. Whyte said today at a City Hall news conference.
Parents of children who suffer from asthma or underlying health conditions are urged to take their children to a doctor as soon as possible.
So far there have been no confirmed cases of CPS students contracting the EV-D68 virus, which is sometimes difficult to detect.
“Most often the infection appears with either no symptoms at all or with symptoms similar to a mild illness,” said Dr. Whyte. “They mimic that of a cold and include runny nose, sneezing, coughing and body aches. We are at the onset of cold and flu season.”
“Most people infected with enteroviruses don’t get sick, or have only mild illness like a cold,” said Dr. Stephanie Black, Medical Director of the Communicable Disease Program at the Chicago Dept. of Public Health.
The best medicine is prevention. Experts urge families to wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. That is especially important for parents after changing babies’ diapers. Clean frequently touched surfaces like doorknobs and toys, and do not kiss and hug or share food and drinks with sick people.
Notifications went out on Tuesday to CPS school principals to pass on information to students and parents.