Enterovirus D68

Precautions

  • With the onset of the school year across the United States, so too it is the onset of increasing viral respiratory infections among school-aged children. New to the class of viruses causing this is the enterovirus D68. The typical enterovirus season runs from July through October. This year the spreading of the virus has coincided with the start of the new school year. Recent cases have been reported in children aged 6 months to 16 years, with most patients around aged 4 and 5 years.

    Typically enterovirus D68 causes upper respiratory symptoms such as cough, runny nose, sneezing, body and muscle aches, and possibly low-grade fever. However, some individuals with underlying medical conditions such as allergy, asthma and weakened immune systems may experience severe complications such as shortness of breath, rapid breathing, wheezing and or difficulty in breathing.

    If a child has asthma, physicians should work with parents to make sure an asthma action plan is updated, that children are taking their prescribed daily asthma controller medication and that they have the availability of their rescue medication. If children develop worsening asthma symptoms, they should follow the steps of their asthma action plan. Physicians should encourage parents to contact them right away if the symptoms do not improve.

    The virus can be found in an infected persons respiratory secretions such as saliva, nasal mucus or sputum. It likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches contaminated surfaces. There are no specific treatments; however, parents should be instructed to protect their child and themselves by taking the following precautions:

    • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
    • 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.
    • Tell children to cover their mouth with a tissue when they cough. If no tissue is handy, they should be taught to cough into the crook of their elbow or upper sleeve instead of their hand..
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