Riverhead takes precautionary measures against D68 virus

Riverhead school board
At Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Riverhead officials outlined preventative measures the school is taking against Enterovirus D68. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Riverhead school officials have mailed letters to parents outlining how to protect children from an uncommon respiratory virus that’s sending hundreds of children to hospitals in the Midwest. 

The virus, known as Enterovirus D68, was first detected in the 1960s and has appeared from time to time in different areas across the country.

There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses — including coxsackie and even polio — and they cause 10 to 15 million infections in the United States each year, according to the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Locally, Southampton Elementary School was closed Wednesday after a student was diagnosed with a case of enterovirus, according to a report on The Southampton Press website. The district decided to close the school in order to sanitize the building and bus fleet even though the unidentified student doesn’t have the D68 strain, the news report states.

At Tuesday’s Riverhead Board of Education meeting, parents said they were concerned because they heard a Riley Avenue Elementary student may have had Enterovirus.

Superintendent Nancy Carney said although it turned out that the student didn’t have the virus, the district remains diligent with disinfecting surfaces and said the best method of protection is good hygiene and frequent hand washing. Parents are also asked to keep their child home from school if he or she develops a fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, body and muscle aches.

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