Enterovirus D68 killed a New Jersey preschool student named Eli, who had seemed fine the night before his untimely death.

Enterovirus D68 Kills Child

Eli, a preschooler from Hamilton Township, died after he was put to sleep the night of Wednesday, Sept. 24. Since then, authorities have been trying to determine the cause of the unexpected death. On Friday, it was determined that it was the particularly deadly strain of enterovirus D68 that was responsible for the tragedy.

"He was asymptomatic and fine, and the next morning he had passed," Jeff Plunkett, the health officer in Hamilton Township, told reporters, according to CNN. "So the onset was very rapid, very sudden. And that's clearly the big difference (between enterovirus D68 and other enterovirus strains)."

“The D68 strain is a very virulent strain of entero that would attack young children, preschoolers, toddlers who have for the most part compromised immune systems,” Plunkett added. “It has a certain target in our population."

It is unknown how Eli contracted enterovirus D68, but his death confirms that the virus is in the community. With the knowledge that the potentially fatal virus is in the air, it has been advised that people take extra precautions where it comes to their hygiene.

Hamilton Township Mayor Kelly Yaede noted that neither Eli’s parents "nor anyone will ever be able to determine where Eli may have contracted this virus."

"The virus is out in the community, there is nothing we can do about that," the health officer said. "The way to prevent it is from your own personal hygiene and be vigilant with your own children and yourself."

Thus far, there have been 538 confirmed cases of enterovirus D68 in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Enterovirus D68 showed up in tests conducted on four people who have died, though the CDC has yet to confirm the virus as their cause of death.

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