Doctors warn of more difficult virus season | AspenTimes.com

Doctors warn of more difficult virus season

Melanie Wong
Vail Daily

EAGLE COUNTY — Coughs, fevers and stuffy noses — Eagle pediatrician Dr. Janet Engle has been seeing it through the summer, and she said she expects to keep seeing it as winter approaches.

"It could make for a more severe flu season," said Engle, who works with Colorado Mountain Medical.

Dr. Jeff Brown, the director of the pediatric hospitalists program at Vail Valley Medical Center, is reporting the same thing — an uptick in kids coming in with severe upper respiratory infections, a trend that has been mirrored across the state. The particular viral strains going around display the usual chest-cold symptoms but can cause more serious problems in children who have asthma, doctors said.

Still, Eagle County doctors tell parents that what they're seeing in their clinics is nothing compared with the viral outbreaks happening on the Front Range, where younger kids have been coming down with strains of the enterovirus. A handful of Denver children have even come down with paralysis-like symptoms, and while doctors say they do not know for sure what is causing the symptoms, they suspect it is linked to a particularly nasty enterovirus. Eagle County epidemiologist Becky Larsen said that there's no sure link between the neurological symptoms and the enterovirus and that there have been no reports of such symptoms in Eagle County.

Meanwhile, Eagle County seems to be a little more shielded from the sickness so far.

"The hospitals (in Denver) were reporting an increase of 15 to 20 percent for kids (coming in with respiratory infections). I've been keeping an eye on it here in the valley, and while we're seeing higher volumes of these cases, it's not to that extent," Brown said, adding that the enterovirus is a very common virus that doctors see all the time. "Other hospitals in mountain communities have seen the same thing. I'm not sure why the mountain communities are being spared."

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The enterovirus encompasses a whole family of viruses that can cause everything from the common cold to polio, Engle said. The current strain that doctors think may be causing the respiratory infections is called enterovirus 68. To avoid it, physicians recommend common-sense precautions — wash your hands, get vaccinated, and keep an eye on your kids if they do come down with a cold.

"We see more of it in the winter for sure," Engle said. "We're in closer proximity. We're not outside all the time, and kids are in close proximity in school."

Signs of a common cold:

three to five days of low grade fever

coughing

congestion

sore throat

When to see a doctor:

fevers that last more than five days

feeling lethargic

Having trouble eating or staying hydrated

Unable to catch your breath or coughing so hard it causes shortness of breath and wheezing

If symptoms worsen after a few days

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