Nationwide respiratory virus now affecting South Plains children

Nationwide respiratory virus now affecting South Plains children

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - A virus sending hundreds of children across the country to the hospital has made its way to the South Plains.

Local doctors say the enterovirus shows up every year. It is often called a "summer cold," but this year it's more serious.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that his unusually high number of hospitalizations could be just the tip of the iceberg.

This virus already causes about 30 children to be hospitalized each day in Kansas City, Missouri, with about 15 percent of them in intensive care.

Covenant Pediatrician Dr. David Gray has kept up with news of this enterovirus, and has even seen several cases in Lubbock.

"We do expect cases to increase throughout the winter," he said. "This particular enterovirus string happens to peak in September, but we'll have many other upper respiratory viruses that will peak in several months throughout the winter months."

Since it is a virus, Gray said there is no cure for it but said antibiotics can relieve symptoms. It affects mostly people with asthma or allergies, but Gray said children, not adults, are the main patients.

"We typically have immunologic protection from these viruses," he said, "so we don't get as ill as the children who are encountering them for the first time."

The Lubbock Independent School District has 55 trained nurses throughout their campuses who have prepared their students to stay healthy. Nancy Meinecke has treated students at Bayless Elementary for about nine years as a nurse, and said she tells students not to touch their "T-zone", the area around their eyes, noses and mouths.

"You don't want those germs coming out of or going into those areas" she said.

LISD has not seen any cases of the enterovirus among their students yet, but Micki Oates, LISD Student Health Services Coordinator, said the district will keep parents and the Lubbock Health Department updated.

"We track that information," she said, "so that we would know how many we are seeing that have respiratory issues."

Dr. Gray said parents should be concerned if their child has chest pain or rapid breathing because this means there may be changes in the lower respiratory tract, which requires more aggressive treatment.

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