Enterovirus-D68: Is Your Child At Risk?

Infant getting breathing treatment from mother while suffering from illnessMore than one confirmed case of Enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68) has been reported in Florida. The Midwest, South, and Northeast have all seen cases as well. Undoubtedly, this is making parents all over the US a little more worried sending their kids off to school each morning. Enterovirus-D68 is known to spread just as easily as the common flu; all it takes is a few contaminated coughs or sneezes to spread the virus.

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But what really is EV-D68, and why do people compare it to Polio? Plus, how can you help protect your child from becoming infected? In this blog we answer all of these questions and more about enteroviruses-D68.

What Is Enteroviruses-D68?

EV-D68 is considered in the family of enteroviruses, which includes Polio as well as a host of common viruses. EV-D68 is a particular strain that is rare, but nothing new. Small numbers of the virus have been reported to the CDC every year since 1987, although this year, the numbers have increased considerably. In most cases viruses in the enteroviruses family do not turn into serious illnesses, and typically cause mild symptoms, such as a fever or cold.

But, certain strains of enteroviruses are capable of causing severe syndromes, such as Polio and certain instances of EV-D68. Many people contract EV-D68 and only experience mild symptoms that are here one day and gone the next. In the most severe cases, a bad respiratory illness is known to develop which can lead to difficulty breathing.

EV-D68 is considered a respiratory illness in which the virus lives in saliva, nasal mucus, and all respiratory secretions. This makes it very easy to spread, especially because alcohol-based hand sanitizers and disinfectants are not good at battling off the virus.

Enterovirus-D68 Symptoms

Enterovirus-D68 generally has the largest impact on infants, young children and teens. Children with asthma are at the greatest risk for contracting this virus and becoming very sick with a respiratory illness. Some children may experience no symptoms and the virus may quickly be defeated.  Yet in other cases it causes a severe infection that requires emergency medical attention.

The symptoms of EV-D68 are very similar to the common cold, and include:

  • Coughing
  • Stuffy nose
  • Low-grade fever (less than one in every kids has a fever with EV-D68.)

If symptoms progress into a more dangerous respiratory illness, symptoms will worsen to:

  • Wheezing
  • Difficulty breathing

The moment your child displays signs of difficulty breathing they need to be taken to the hospital immediately. Conducting a lab test and taking a sample from the nose and throat is the only way to positively identify EV-D68.

How Dangerous Is EV-D68?

Enterovirus-D68 is quick moving. In August one child in Kansas City was reported to have the illness, and since then it only took 2 months for the virus to find its way to over 45 states, infecting more than 1,000 children. 15% of these children were hospitalized and required emergency care due to EV-D68.

Out of 1,000+ infected individuals this year there have been 2 reported deaths, meaning EV-D68 has the potential to be dangerous but statistically most children are able to fight off the virus without any major complications. Still, you never want to take anything for granted, and you can never be too cautious when it comes to protecting your child.

Who Is Most At The Greatest Risk From Enteroviruses-D68?

Babies, young children and teens are at the greatest risk for contracting this virus. Those with asthma have a greater risk for developing severe respiratory illness as a result of the virus and should be monitored very closely. In fact, 68% of children, between 6-weeks and 16-years old, hospitalized due to EV-D68 are asthmatic.

Adults can be infected with the virus as well, but generally show no symptoms.

Treatment For EV-D68

There are currently no vaccines for this virus, and in most cases children don’t need one because they are able to get better on their own relatively quickly. In the instance that more serious symptoms arise, hospitalization and subsequent treatment methods can be life saving.

How You Can Help Stop The Spread Of Enterovirus-D68

You can pour on the disinfectants, but it’s not going to get rid of this sneaky virus. To help protect your child from contracting EV-D68, make sure they wash their hands frequently. Also, keep your child out of school even if they appear to only have a mild cold. This allows you to better monitor how they are feeling, and it also prevents any possible spreading of EV-D68. Your little one may be able to quickly fight of the virus just like any other common cold, but they could pass it to a child at school that could get very sick. Plus, since the virus is not killed with disinfectants, it makes it very easy to spread at school.

If your child is experiencing serious symptoms associated with EV-D68, you want to go to your local hospital for emergency treatment. For less serious symptoms visit your local Urgent Medical Center for immediate answers at a more affordable cost.

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