N.Y. monitors for EV-D68 flu infection after Midwest outbreaks

New York health officials are monitoring for EV-D68, a flu virus that causes severe respiratory illness in children and other individuals, in the state, following a number of outbreaks in the Midwest.

EV-D68 is a less common strain among the more than 100 types of enteroviruses. It was first identified in California in 1962 and has rarely been reported in the U.S., compared to other similar viruses.

The virus causes mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms including fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and body aches, and some children reportedly had difficulty breathing.

Between August and September, 82 people in six states-Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky and Iowa-were confirmed to have respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.

No EV-D68 outbreaks have been reported in the state of New York, but the Department of Health will continue to monitor emergency departments statewide.

"In addition to working with the CDC, we are partnering with local health departments and health care providers to monitor any increases in severe respiratory illnesses in New York," Acting State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said. "This type of illness is one to take very seriously, and it is important to be aware that common steps to avoid illnesses such as the flu will help protect people from enteroviruses."

Officials have urged state residents to wash their hands often, disinfect commonly touched surfaces and avoid contact with people who are ill.