Medjet Health Update: Keep Your Children from Getting and Spreading Enterovirus
By: John Gobbels
Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of more than 100 non-polio enteroviruses. This virus was first identified in California in 1962.
What are the symptoms of EV-D68 infection?
EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness.
- Mild symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches.
- Severe symptoms may include wheezing and difficulty breathing.
How does the virus spread?
Since EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, the virus can be found in an infected person’s respiratory secretions, such as saliva, nasal mucus, or sputum. EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces.
What time of the year are people most likely to get infected?
In the United States, people are more likely to get infected with enteroviruses in the summer and fall. Cases are likely to decline later in the fall.
Who is at risk?
In general, infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become ill. That’s because they do not yet have immunity (protection) from previous exposures to these viruses. We believe this is also true for EV-D68.
Children with asthma may have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68 infection.
Below is a map showing active cases of EV-D68 as of 9/2014
How is it diagnosed?
EV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat.
Many hospitals and some doctor’s offices can test ill patients to see if they have Enterovirus infection. However, most cannot do specific testing to determine the type of Enterovirus, like EV-D68.
Anyone with respiratory illness should contact their doctor if they are having difficulty breathing, or if their symptoms are getting worse.
What are the treatments?
There is no specific treatment for people with respiratory illness caused by EV-D68.
For mild respiratory illness, you can help relieve symptoms by taking over-the-counter medications for pain and fever. Aspirin should not be given to children.
Some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized.
There are no antiviral medications currently available for people who become infected with EV-D68.
How can I protect myself?
You can help protect yourself from respiratory illnesses by following these steps:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
There are no vaccines for preventing EV-D68 infections.
What should people with asthma and children suffering from reactive airway disease do?
Since people with asthma are higher risk for respiratory illnesses, they should regularly take medicines and maintain control of their illness during this time. They should also take advantage of influenza vaccine since people with asthma have a difficult time with respiratory illnesses.