A Michigan toddler died late last week while battling an Enterovirus D68 infection, and health officials in the state are now warning parents to take precautions against the mysterious virus that's sickening hundreds of children across the United States.
"While severe illness in children is always a concern, it's important to remember that very few people who contract EV-D68 will develop anything beyond mild flu-like symptoms," Jennifer Smith, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Community Health, said in a statement to the Detroit News.
She added: "Residents should continue to lead their daily lives, practice good hygiene and vaccinate against illnesses that are vaccine-preventable, like the flu. Washing hands often with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, and staying home from work or school when sick are all easy ways we can help stop the spread of illness."
Madeline Reid died Friday, her family and friends said in a statement on a GoFundMe page, which is raising money for the 21-month-old's "departing ceremonies."
According to the family, from Clinton Township, Reid died from complications of Enterovirus infection, including "failure in all of Maddie's organs, along with congestive heart failure and myocarditis."
Although the outbreak of Enterovirus 68 has garnered a lot less attention than the handful of suspected and confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, the respiratory illness is spreading rapidly across the country: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been at least 691 confirmed Enterovirus cases in 46 states this year.
Reid is the second child to die while infected with the particularly severe strain of the virus this year. In New Jersey, 4-year-old Eli Waller died in his sleep late last month, and officials determined that his death was the first one directly connected to Enterovirus 68, despite his having a lack of symptoms.
Four others infected with the virus also died, the CDC previously announced. But officials aren't sure what role EVD-68 played in those deaths, the AP reported.
Enterovirus symptoms are usually cold-like: runny nose, fever, body aches and skin rash, according to the CDC.
Rare cases cause more severe symptoms; Enterovirus D68 is known to produce breathing problems in children, particularly those with existing respiratory conditions such as asthma.
While unconfirmed, health officials are looking into a litany of other severe symptoms found in those who tested positive for Enterovirus 68. Those include reports of paralysis among a small group of Colorado children who had D86 and other strains of the virus.
Of a group of five children who reported paralysis-like symptoms in California last year, two also tested positive for Enterovirus 68.