Infectious Disease Conference focuses on Ebola, Enterovirus D-68

The Infectious Disease Conference is in Philadelphia, bringing together top experts, many of whom are on the front line fighting Ebola and investigating Enterovirus D-68.

Doctor Bruce Ribner is a specialist at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where two American healthcare workers were successfully treated after being infected with the deadly virus in West Africa.

He says as the outbreak continues to worsen there, it will continue to affect us here.

"Even the most optimistic estimates is tens of thousands of patients and it is likely to represent additional patients coming back to the US," Ribner said.

So he says all US hospitals have to be ready to identify Ebola quickly and more centers will need to be able to safely care for patients.

Doctor Mary Anne Jackson works at Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. It was one of the first centers to report cases of Enterovirus D-68, a respiratory virus that has since sent hundreds of children to hospitals across the country in 45 states including our area.

"At this point, this is the largest national outbreak of this virus ever reported," Jackson said.

She and Doctor Aaron Milstone of Johns Hopkins say there are still a lot of questions.

The CDC has formed two groups, one to investigate the illness and the other to determine if D-68 is causing sudden weakness with spine changes in at least two dozen kids, including five at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

As we move further into the season, other respiratory viruses will also start to circulate including the flu.

The message to families is to practice prevention.

"You can protect yourself by washing hands, staying home if you are sick, keeping hands from face and covering your mouth if you cough," Milstone said.

Of course, that also includes getting a flu shot. Everyone over the age of 6 months is recommended to get the vaccine.

It won't protect kids from Enterovirus D-68 but it will help prevent the flu.

About 200,000 people are hospitalized every year due to the flu.

Last year, a little more than 100 kids died from the flu.
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