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Suspected Respiratory Virus Triggers Visitor Restrictions at Northern Arizona Healthcare


Health officials suspect that the first cases of a severe respiratory virus that mainly affects children may have arrived in northern Arizona. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, both Northern Arizona Healthcare locations are implementing visitation restrictions.

Beginning Monday, the Flagstaff and Verde Valley medical centers will begin a temporary ban of children under 12 who are not undergoing medical treatment. The restrictions apply only to patient-care areas. According to NAH, it’s an attempt to protect the public from the Enterovirus-D68. Since last month the virus has hospitalized hundreds of children mainly in the Midwest. Both NAH facilities are currently monitoring potentially infected patients.

As of Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were not reporting any confirmed cases in Arizona. But health officials suspect there could be many throughout the state.

EV-D68 is spread by person-to-person contact. Infants and children with asthma are most at risk. Symptoms include fever, coughing and body aches, and no specific treatment or vaccine exists. Officials recommend taking precautions like hand washing. They say hand sanitizer isn’t as effective. 

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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