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Jefferson County Public Health

September 9, 2014

Dear Parents,

The Denver metropolitan area and other cities across the country are experiencing an increase in pediatric patients with severe respiratory illness and increased asthma symptoms. Some patients have required hospitalization, and some have needed care in pediatric intensive care units. Initial testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratories indicates that the illnesses are caused by Enterovirus 68 (EV-D68). The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is not aware of any patients who have died because of this condition.

Jeffco Public Schools is working closely with Jefferson County Public Health and state health officials to monitor the situation and provide guidance to our school community and staff.

Signs and Symptoms of EV-D68:

The illness is characterized by difficulty breathing, difficulty getting enough oxygen, and wheezing in some patients. A minority of patients have a fever.At this time, pediatric patients with asthma are asked to be vigilant in taking their asthma controlling medications and see their healthcare provider if asthma symptoms worsen.

There are no vaccines to prevent EV-D68 infections.

Everyone can help protect themselves from respiratory illnesses by:

  • Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds (long enough for children to sing the "Happy Birthday" song twice). Be sure to set a good example by doing this yourself.
  • Avoiding touching their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding kissing, hugging, and sharing cups and eating utensils with people who are sick; staying 6 feet away from people who are sick is a good rule of thumb.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or sleeve. If a tissue is used, throw the tissue away and wash your hands.
  • Disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
  • Alcohol-based hand gels are effective IF used correctly.Use a fairly large amount (like a tablespoon), ensure hands are completely wet with the gel for a minimum of 10 seconds, and then allow hands to dry completely (don't forget around nail beds and in finger crevices).
  • If you think you or your children have flu-like illness, stay home from school or work and avoid close contact with others as much as possible.Stay home until at least 24 hours after the fever subsides. The absence of fever must be without taking fever-reducing medication such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen. (Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
  • Making sure vaccinations, including the influenza vaccine, are up to date.

Jefferson County Public Health continues to advise that students remain home from school when the following symptoms are present:

  • Influenza-like symptoms:
    • Fever (greater that 100º F) or ChillsAND Respiratory symptoms, especially cough or sore throat
    • Children should remain home until they are fever free without the use of medicine for a minimum of 24 hours
    • As advised by Jefferson County Public Health, students who arrive at school with symptoms of influenza-like illness will be dismissed to return home.

  • Gastrointestinal Symptoms:
    • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea—students should remain home for at least 24 hours after symptoms have subsided.
    • When the student does not feel well enough to actively participate and engage in the regular school day.

For further information we encourage you to review the documents in their entirety at:

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6038a1.htm

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