The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has begun using a new, quicker lab test for the detection of enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) in people with respiratory illness.
“CDC has received substantially more specimens for enterovirus lab testing than usual this year, due to the large outbreak of EV-D68 and related hospitalizations,” Assistant Surgeon General and Director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Anne Schuchat said. “When rare or uncommon viruses suddenly begin causing severe illness, CDC works quickly to develop diagnostic tests to enhance our response and investigations. This new lab test will reduce what would normally take several weeks to get results to a few days.”
While the need to test for EV-D68 is still significant, the CDC said it expects instances of the enterovirus to drop in late fall, the way most enteroviruses do. The new testing will likely lead to a high number of confirmed cases in the weeks to come, but these new cases will not indicate an increase in the enterovirus.
The CDC has tested more than 1,150 specimens submitted by hospitals from 45 states since August, with almost half testing positive for EV-D68 and one-third testing positive for a rhinovirus or a different enterovirus.
While there is not a vaccine to prevent illness from enterovirus infection, the best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.