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Local News

Enterovirus Strikes TV Anchor Paula Lopez’s Teenage Daughter

Santa Barbara High student confirmed as first case of D68 strain in Santa Barbara County

The daughter of local television news anchor Paula Lopez became the first confirmed case of enterovirus D68 in Santa Barbara County last week.

Alana Ochoa turns 16 this week, and is a junior at Santa Barbara High School. She went to the doctor a few weeks ago, gasping for breath.

Alana Ochoa, left, daughter of local television news anchor Paula Lopez, was confirmed last week as having the first case of Enterovirus D68 in Santa Barbara County. She has since recovered. (Ochoa family photo)

Alana has asthma, but the symptoms she suffered at the time were much worse.

“It was a sharpness in my chest, it was painful, it was worse than asthma,” she said.

While in the doctor’s office with her daughter, Lopez had just read a news report about enterovirus.

Lopez and Alana’s doctor agreed the test for enterovirus was important, because Alana’s symptoms were so severe. Those results came back Friday, confirming the teen as the first case in the county.

Lopez said her daughter’s case is an example of why parents must be vigilant with their children.

“Use your gut Mom instincts,” Lopez said.

Alana’s doctor prescribed strong steroids, and she has now made a full recovery.

[Click here to see a video of Alana.]

On Friday, Alana was back at Santa Barbara High, rehearsing and singing for her part in the school’s upcoming play Big Fish.

Seven other possible cases of enterovirus are being monitored by county Public Health Department workers.

“It is important to know it is circulating in our community,” county Health Manager Paige Batson said.

Batson said the others being watched include three infants under the age of 1, two children under the age of 5, and two adults over the age of 65.

Test results can take from seven days to three weeks.

There are many forms of enterovirus, but the EV-D68 version attacks the respiratory system and can cause difficulty breathing and, in rare cases, death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website shows EV-D68 levels are elevated right now throughout California, but that infections will likely begin to decline by late fall.

Many of the children affected have asthma or a history of wheezing.

The CDC has documented eight deaths related to EV-D68.

Beth Farnsworth and Tracy Lehr are reporters with KEYT News.

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