WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – At least two Colorado adults have died from complications from what may be enterovirus-68, the same strain that has afflicted hundreds, mostly children, across the country.
Dr. Phil Emrie, a critical care pulmonologist at Lutheran Medical Center in Wheat Ridge, says he treated adult patients who suffered from conditions similar to the virus.
“We don’t know for sure that it’s the enterovirus-68, but we do know that it’s consistent with the illness that they’re seeing in children,” Emrie said.
That specific virus has been diagnosed primarily in children. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported approximately 500 cases in 42 states.
“We’re all more concerned about our children and things, but there’s no reason to think adults would not get the virus as well,” Emrie said.
Trischelle Sheeler is one of those adults who the doctor believes may have contracted the specific enterovirus-68 strain.
“It’s horrendous,” she told CBS4.
Sheeler, 48, has spent five days in intensive care at Lutheran, undergoing treatments that open her lungs to allow her to breathe. Enterovirus’ symptoms are similar to severe flu.
She has improved significantly since last Friday, when she checked into the hospital’s emergency room.
“It felt like death,” she said. “I thought I was going to die.”
Her symptoms were similar to a cold. She has since been diagnosed with pneumonia. and lab tests showed she was infected with enterovirus.
Sheeler is one of 19 adult enterovirus cases documented at Lutheran since Sept. 3.
“Because I’ve never been this sick before and even though I’m getting better, just anything like taking a shower today was like life-threatening,” she said. “It took a lot to be able to come back and catch my (and start) breathing again.”