First cases of enterovirus D68 confirmed in New Jersey, New York City

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NEW JERSEY (PIX11) -- A New Jersey child has been diagnosed with enterovirus EV-D68, health officials said Wednesday, the same day cases of the illness were also confirmed in New York City and Connecticut.

The unidentified child is the Garden State's first confirmed case of the potentially serious respiratory illness that has put hundreds of children in the hospital and is spreading across the country.

The patient had been treated at a Philadelphia hospital and has since improved and returned home, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. That hospital sent a specimen to the Centers for Disease Control which confirmed that the child was battling EV-D68, the agency said.

While enteroviruses are common during the late summer and fall seasons, this strain of the illness occurs less often than others and its symptoms can be severe, especially among children with asthma.

So far, thirteen states have reported cases of EV-D68, according to the CDC. At least 130 people have been infected.

Last week, it was revealed that more than a dozen children in New York state had been diagnosed with the respiratory virus.

EV-D68 is spread through close contact with an infected person, or by touching surfaces or objects that are contaminated with the virus then touching your mouth, nose or eyes, health officials said.

Symptoms include cough, runny nose, sneezing, body aches and a low-grade fever.

There is no vaccine or specific treatment for enterovirus infections and most patients recover on their own.

But health officials warn that individuals with weakened immune systems or underlying health conditions -- particularly asthma -- could suffer severe complications.

The best ways to prevent the spread of the virus is to:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water;
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact (kissing, touching, sharing eating utensils and shaking hands) with people who are sick;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as door knobs and toys;
  • Stay home when sick and call your healthcare provider;
  • Use good respiratory hygiene, like coughing and sneezing into a tissue or elbow and properly disposing tissues.