PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — The respiratory virus that’s been striking children across the country is now in Pennsylvania.

There are now four confirmed cases of the Enterovirus D68 on the other end of the state.

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Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia had samples tested by the Centers for Disease Control and four of them tested positive.

“It’s spreading very, very quickly,” said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University. “You know, children coming back to school within a classroom, an enclosed space on top of each other, provides a wonderful environment for this respiratory virus to spread.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials say Alabama, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania together have 130 lab-confirmed cases. All are children.

The virus causes fever, body aches, coughing, sneezing and sometimes a rash.

Most cases resolve themselves in a week, but for some kids, it can cause difficulty breathing, especially in children with asthma.

The patients in Philadelphia have all been discharged, after being hospitalized for four to six days.

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No deaths have been reported from the virus so far.

According to health officials, the ways in which it is “spread is not yet well understood.” It is found in saliva, nasal mucus and spit, and likely spreads when the infected person coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces.

In a statement, Pa. Health Department Physician General Dr. Carrie DeLone said, “The department is working with the Philadelphia Department of Public Health on this particular cluster and will continue to monitor the situation closely statewide, as we have been since cases have increased rapidly across the country in recent weeks. Parents should be vigilant and aware of signs and symptoms, but it’s also important to know that there are other respiratory illnesses that are circulating and the best course of action if you’re unsure is to talk with your healthcare provider.”

Officials say while there’s no specific treatment for Enterovirus D68, there are ways to protect yourself and your kids.

The CDC is recommending thorough and frequent hand washing to prevent the spread of the virus. Also:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cough into your sleeve or a tissue.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging and sharing cups, eating utensils, etc. with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.


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David Highfield