What You Should Know About Enterovirus D68
Enterovirus D68 belongs to a larger group or viruses called Enterovirus. These viruses can cause a variety of illnesses in infants and children and less commonly in adults. Some of these illnesses include the common cold, hand-foot-and-mouth disease and conjunctivitis (pink eye).
Enterovirus D68 usually causes symptoms of the common cold. The infection occurs throughout the year, but is more common during the summer and early fall. There has been an increase in the number of cases of Enterovirus D68 seen in the United States in 2014 compared to previous years. In addition, there have been cases which are more serious that are usually seen, with some children requiring hospitalization.
What are the usual symptoms of Enterovirus D68?
Enterovirus D68 usually causes symptoms of the common cold, with runny nose, sneezing, fever and cough. The majority of children improve without any specific treatment. Less commonly children may experience difficulty breathing with the sensation of shortness of breath. Some children may experience wheezing. Wheezing is more likely in children diagnosed with asthma. Children with asthma may also have more severe symptoms.
How is Enterovirus D68 spread?
The virus is spread through contact with the nasal mucus or saliva of a person infected with the virus. A person infected with the virus can spread it by coughing or sneezing on another person. It can be spread if nasal mucus or saliva of an infected person gets on a surface that is touched by another person, who then touches his nose or mouth.
What tests are available for Enterovirus D68?
Testing is available for Enterovirus D68. This is usually done for children who are more severely affected and who are hospitalized. Most hospitals are unable to perform specific tests for Enterovirus D68 in the hospital and the samples are usually sent to a government-run lab for testing.
When should I call my doctor?
You should contact you doctor's office if your child is having difficulty breathing or is wheezing. You should also contact your doctor if your child appears tired and is unable to eat or drink.
What is the treatment for Enterovirus D68?
Like many other respiratory viruses, there is no specific treatment for Enterovirus D68. Mild symptoms resolve within a few days. Antibiotics are not effective. Keep your child comfortable and well hydrated. You may give ibuprofen or acetaminophen (Tylenol) for relief of fever.
How can I protect my family from Enterovirus D68?
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom.
- Disinfect toys, doorknobs and table tops and other surfaces than children may touch.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough or sneeze.
- Avoid close contact with persons who are sick. Do not share cups or eating utensils.
- If your child has asthma, follow the instructions for treatment carefully.