Enterovirus D68: What parents need to know

It’s made headlines lately—and grabbed the attention of more than a few understandably anxious parents. A respiratory illness called enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) has sickened children around the nation.

EV-D68 is one of many enteroviruses, which cause infections every year. But this specific strain hasn’t been linked to outbreaks before now, even though it’s been around since at least 1962. Children are more likely than adults to get sick from EV-D68, simply because they lack natural immunity from previous exposure to any of the enteroviruses.

EV-D68 spreads like the flu—through close contact with an infected person or contaminated objects. It often causes only a mild illness, with symptoms similar to a cold or the flu: coughing, sneezing, runny nose, body and muscle aches, and fever.

But EV-D68 can also trigger serious breathing problems in some children—especially those with asthma or a history of wheezing.

How is it treated?

EV-D68 is diagnosed with a lab test. While there’s no specific treatment for the virus, doctors may suggest pain and fever medicines to ease mild symptoms. People with severe respiratory complications may need to be hospitalized.

It’s important to remember that not every illness this time of year is caused by EV-D68. But see a doctor right away if your child does get sick and has trouble breathing.

You can also take steps to help reduce the risk of your family getting sick from EV-D68:

  • If your child has asthma, be sure that his or her asthma is treated and well-controlled.
  • Have everyone wash their hands often with soap and water.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs.
  • Don’t kiss, hug, or share cups or eating utensils with anyone who is sick.

Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


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