Thursday, October 02, 2014
Doctor's Perspective

Should we worry about this respiratory virus?
By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Certain viral infections occur in epidemics in children every year. The most famous infection is the influenza virus. However, it is not the only epidemic virus that we see. One of the winter viruses that we see is called respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. It usually causes cold like symptoms. However, it can be more serious. Each year in the United States, 75,000 to 125,000 babies younger than age 1 are hospitalized due to RSV infection. Thus, it is a major cause of breathing issues. Recently, a new virus - enterovirus 68 - has been found that causes respiratory symptoms. This virus has been around since 1962 but has not frequently caused illness. This year seems to be different because it is causing more respiratory symptoms. We have now seen several hundred cases. Enterovirus 68 is far less common than RSV. However, the media would have you believe it is a really big issue. I guess no one would get excited about an old virus causing the same old symptoms. A new virus with a fancy name gets more interest. Enterovirus 68 is in a class of viruses called enteroviruses. The latin word "entero" means intestinal. As a rule these viruses cause intestinal symptoms. They frequently cause vomiting and diarrhea. However, any virus can cause any kinds of symptoms. It looks like the enterovirus 68 targets the respiratory tract. Enteroviruses grow well in water. That is why they are most often seen in the summer when children are swimming. Most of us know the most famous enterovirus by another name. One of the subgroups of enteroviruses is the poliovirus group. Until the time that the vaccine was made, we had a poliovirus epidemic every summer. Most people (85%) who caught the virus had intestinal symptoms. A significant number (15%) had no symptoms at all. Less than 1% of the victims had the virus attack the nervous system and cause paralysis. A second group of enteroviruses is called Coxsackie viruses. They come in two subgroups, A and B. Many children have had Coxsackie virus A 16 that causes hand-foot-mouth disease. Enterovirus 71 can cause this same thing and so can other enteroviruses. They just do it less frequently. A third group is called Echo virus. Both echo virus and Coxsackie virus can cause viral meningitis. This is a benign form of meningitis that lasts 72 hours and then disappears. Every summer we have an epidemic of enteroviral meningitis. The main problem is that it is very difficult to distinguish from the more serious bacterial meningitis. Therefore, it is worrisome when it occurs. I wonder why the media does not broadcast that too. Again, I suppose it is too common. The last group of enterovirus are the ones that do not fit into the other categories. That is the group to which Enterovirus 68 belongs. The bottom line is that while Enterovirus 68 is the one in the news, it is by no means a virus that deserves that much press. It is not as common as RSV and it is not as deadly as polio. It does not cause as much worry as meningitis. Maybe we need to be teaching the media more about medicine. They certainly aren't teaching us very well. If you have comments about this column or suggestions for other topics, send an email to Dr. Anthony Policastro at

Bike-a-thon will benefit St. Jude By Lynn R. Parks A bicycle ride to raise money for the St. Jude Children's Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., will be held Sunday, Oct. 12, in Seaford. This will be the 29th year for the event. For all of those years, the fundraiser has been organized by Ron and Sue Breeding, Seaford. In total, it has raised about $65,000 for the hospital. Participating this year, as he has for many years, will be Seaford Mayor David Genshaw. Joining him will be his son, Seth. "St. Jude is a great research facility, and does a lot to help families that are going through a tough time," Genshaw said.

"Combine a fundraiser to help it out with a Sunday-afternoon bike ride, and you've got a great event. I look forward to it every year." The bike ride will kick off at West Seaford Elementary School. Participants will ride around the Hooper's Landing Golf Course, on the city's new bike path. They can ride around as many times as they like, up to 20 miles. Riders collect pledges for each lap that they ride. The youth (younger than 18) who collects the most money will win a $100 savings bond. Refreshments will be provided by the Seaford Kiwanis Club. Ron Breeding said that sometimes riders go a few laps, stop for a drink and something to eat, and then resume their ride, refreshed. The Breedings were moved to do something to help the St. Jude hospital after their son Steve, who was just a baby, had to spend several weeks in a hospital in Wilmington. While Steve's prognosis turned out to be good – he would grow out of his ailment, doctors said – the Breedings saw many children there who were not so fortunate. When they and their young son came back to Seaford, they decided to do something to benefit children who are sick. "We looked at St. Jude and it seemed like a good place to support," Ron Breeding said. Breeding said that the annual event attracts around 20 riders; "the most we've ever had is 25," he said. Both he and Genshaw would like to see more participation. The bike-a-thon to benefit the St. Jude Children's Hospital will be held Sunday, Oct. 12, beginning at 2 p.m. Participation is free, but riders collect pledges for each mile that they ride. For information, and to arrange to get pledge envelopes, call organizer Ron Breeding, 629-3964.

Breast Cancer Awareness Walk Nanticoke Health Services will hold a Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Awareness Walk in cooperation with the City of Seaford, patients, survivors, families and friends at the Nanticoke Cancer Care Center at 7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 6. The short walk and ceremony will kick off the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The walk takes place at twilight. Walkers will hold candles as they walk to Gateway Park, a few blocks away and cancer survivors will speak about their experience.

Hospice Lunch Bunch Lecture "Understanding Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder" will be the topic of Delaware Hospice's Lunch Bunch Lecture on Friday, Oct. 3, with Dr. Judy Pierson, clinical psychologist. The lecture will be held at the Delaware Hospice Center in Milford from noon to 1:30 p.m. Registration is required as seating capacity is limited and the cost of lunch is $5 per person. Contact Michele August at 856-7717 or 478-5707 or email

Diabetes education program Nanticoke Memorial Hospital will hold a four-session diabetes education program on Oct. 8, 15, 22 and 29, from 5 to 7 p.m., at the hospital. Registration is required. The cost of the four-session program may be reimbursable by insurance. To register call 629-6611, ext. 2446.

Nanticoke welcomes Dr. Cohen Nanticoke Health Services welcomes David W. Cohen, MD to its active staff as a urologist. Dr. Cohen completed medical school at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in 1986. He completed a residency in surgery at New York University, New York, N.Y., followed by a residency in urology, also at New York University in 1992. Dr. Cohen then completed a fellowship in urologic oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, N.Y. in 1994. Dr. Cohen is board certified in urology. He is a member of the American Medical Association and the American Urological Association.