As the death toll slowly increases from the spread of enterovirus 68 in various areas of the United States, Ocean County’s health department remains on alert but has yet to confirm any cases without the county, officials said.
New Jersey has confirmed seven cases of the virus in Sussex, Essex, Passaic, Morris, Camden and Burlington counties, state health officials said Wednesday. The New Jersey cases all were in children between the ages of 1 and 9 years old.
“One person from Ocean County was tested but is receiving medical care outside of the county,” said Freeholder Gerry P. Little. The results of the test, he said, have not yet been received by health officials.
The Ocean County Health Department is working with the county’s physicians, schools and hospitals to coordinate a plan should a case emerge locally, Little said.
On Wednesday, a 10-year-old child from Rhode Island infected with the virus died.
“The kids are the most vulnerable, and across the country, they have had a number of children that have been hospitalized with this and, unfortunately, some fatalities,” said Little.
According to Daniel E. Regenye, Public Health Coordinator at OCHD, 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year but most people never experience any symptoms. The goal, of course, is to prevent the spread of the virus in the first place. The health department suggests everyone washes their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after they cough, sneeze or change diapers; cover their mouths when they cough; avoid touching one’s eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands; and wipe household and workplace surfaces with disinfectants whose labels report virus-killing properties. The health department is also urging residents against contact with those who are sick, especially contact such as hugging, kissing or sharing utensils.