Concern running high after NJ preschooler dies of enterovirus

Annie McCormick Image
Monday, October 6, 2014
VIDEO: Classes resume after NJ enterovirus death
Classes resumed as usual Monday in Hamilton Township after word that a preschooler died from Enterovirus D-68.

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (WPVI) -- Classes resumed Monday morning at a school in Mercer County after health officials confirmed that a 4-year-old student died of Enterovirus D-68.[br /][br /]Eli Waller died Thursday September 25th at his home after showing symptoms of a respiratory illness.[br /][br /]On Friday the CDC determined that samples taken from the boy were in fact Enterovirus D68. [br /][br /]Hours later the Mercer County medical examiner ruled the virus caused his death.[br /][br /][photo ID="337847" /][br /][br /]Waller attended Yardville Elementary School in Hamilton Township, and his death has gripped the entire community.[br /][br /]Parents arriving at the school on Monday expressed their concern.[br /][br /]"It's a little nerve-wracking," said Brittney Blackburn, adding "I wholeheartedly stand by the school. I think they are doing an excellent job."[br /][br /]"I am just watching closely any kid that has symptoms, especially respiratory issues," said Thuy Bo.[br /][br /]Parents went before a panel of health, state and school officials with their concerns Sunday night.[br /][br /]They demanded answers about classrooms with poor ventilation and asked why the schools were not being investigated for areas at higher risk for infection.[br /][br /]The parents of a 4-year-old boy who shared a classroom with Eli Waller are anxiously awaiting the results of samples sent to the CDC.[br /][br /]He did go to the hospital, but is now doing well at home.[br /][br /]The two boys shared a classroom, one in a morning pre-school class, the other in an afternoon class.[br /][br /]Officials say there is no way to pinpoint where Waller contracted the virus.[br /][br /]The township has set up an educational hotline for parents. The number is [b]609-586-0311.[/b][br /][br /]Officials said school attendance was normal on Friday, and school continues to be in session. [br /][br /]Parents were being urged to watch their children for symptoms and make sure their kids wash their hands and practice good hygiene.[br /][br /]Jeffrey Plunkett from the Hamilton Township Department of Health said, "All cases are being assumed to be Enterovirus at this time of the year."[br /][br /]The county's Department of Health officer sought to ease the public's concerns about the Enterovirus Saturday, and school officials also stated they are doing everything they can, including extensive cleaning in all schools.[br /][br /]Waller's family released the following statement to the Times of Trenton on Sunday:[br /][br /][i]"My words probably won't capture him well, but everyone who met Eli knows how he made people feel; imagine a shy little puppy who wants only to make people proud and happy, maybe tripping a bit over his own paws, but truly full of unconditional love. He was a beautiful mix of eagerness and hesitancy, need and striving, caution and surprise, all of which were grounded in a pure, unconditional love.[br /][br /]"The youngest of a set of triplets, born much smaller and lighter than his sisters, Eli nevertheless persevered through all the difficulties that came his way. Eli was not the type to give up, and even though things never really came easily to him, he would just plug away, day after day, practicing sounds, or movements, or skills, until he would eventually get them. He did this entirely in an effort to make his Mom and Dad proud, and we can unequivocally say that we were, and will continue to be, so very proud of our little Eli.[br /][br /]"Eli cared deeply for his sisters, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and his Mom and Dad. He enjoyed soccer with his best friend, and he made incredible progress through his dance classes and in school, thanks to his friends and teachers there. My wife and I simply cannot thank you all nearly enough for the roles you played in Eli's life. And while our hearts break at his passing, our hearts also overflow with overwhelming gratitude. We want everyone to know how grateful we are for such an outpouring of love and support, not only during Eli's life, but also after his passing. This is an incredible community in which we live, and we don't know what to say to you all other than thank you, from the bottoms of our hearts.[br /][br /]"In light of this gratitude, and in honor of the loving life Eli lived, my wife and I, along with a number of friends and family, are in the process of establishing The First Day of School Foundation, which will provide support for students involved in Special Education. With the help of organizations such as the Yardville Elementary PTA, Erica Haller Photography, and Dance It Up Studios, we are already beginning to organize fund-raising events. Please contact with questions about specific events. [br /][br /]"Like so many kids his age, Eli was both nervous and excited about starting school, and it is our sincere hope that this Foundation can work to help kids in a way that will make Eli proud of us all, in the same way that we were all so proud of him. My wife and I again want to thank everyone for their tremendous love and support during these difficult days, and we hope that you all will continue to support our efforts to honor the memory of our perfect, beautiful son, Eli Thomas Waller. We love you, little buggy!"[/i]k" REL=""]List of symptoms of enterovirus from t