5 Things to Know about Enterovirus D68As news spreads and more and kids are hospitalized by enterovirus D68, parents are increasingly worried about their children becoming infected. It's important to help families understand what the virus is, how it is transmitted, and how it can be prevented. Below are 5 Things to Know about Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68).
1. There are many kinds of enteroviruses, including coxsackie viruses, echoviruses, polioviruses, the hepatitis A virus, and enterovirus D68. These viruses are common and infect millions of people every year. They can infect anyone, but they're more likely to cause illnesses in infants, children, and teens who haven't developed immunity against the virus, and people with weakened immune systems.
2. EV-D68 causes respiratory illness, and the virus can be found in respiratory secretions such as saliva and mucus. The virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces.
3. There is no vaccine for preventing EV-D68, but you can help protect yourself and your family by following these tips:
- Wash hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Make sure you clean in between the fingers and under the nails, where germs can collect.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing utensils with people who are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.
- Teach kids how to cough safely, into their elbow, not their hands.
4. No antiviral medications are currently available for EV-D68. But symptoms such as fever and muscle aches can be relieved while the infection runs its course, which often takes as little as a day or two. However, some people with severe respiratory illness may need to be hospitalized.
5. When to call the doctor: Emergency rooms across the country are seeing a spike in visits because caregivers are concerned that their child may have an EV-D68 infection. Most kids who are infected with EV-D68 will have cold-like symptoms, such as cough, congestion, and a runny nose. These symptoms should be watched closely, but do not require emergency medical care. If your child has a history of asthma and develops cold-like symptoms, it's best to contact your doctor for advice. Seek emergency medical care if your child has severe respiratory symptoms such as wheezing or difficult or labored breathing.
For more information about the Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), please call 1-800-DOCTORS.