A 15-year-old girl, a South County resident, has contracted enterovirus D68, the County Public Health confirmed on Friday; she is the first person to test positive in Santa Barbara. Other specimens from residents have been sent to the state for testing, the department said, but results aren’t yet available. As of last Friday, the California Department of Public Health had confirmed 43 cases statewide, including one in Ventura County.
Since August, the D68 strain has been reported in most every state in the country, mostly in children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has attributed the deaths of five children to the virus. Enteroviruses in general afflict millions of kids every year, but D68 hasn’t been as common in previous years as it has been in 2014. Symptoms — which usually develop rapidly — include coughing, sneezing, fever, muscle aches, and difficulty breathing.
Parents are advised to call the doctor if their baby, young child, or teenager — the demographics most susceptible because they haven’t yet built up enough immunity — is having trouble breathing. Preventing the virus’s spread can involve frequent hand-washing, avoiding close contact with sick people, and keeping sick kids out of school.