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Enterovirus D68

What is Enterovirus D68?

It is a little bit scary, especially if you have kids. The internet and television shows pictures of children in the emergency room gasping for air. It is enough to make any parent worry. So what is Enterovirus D68 or EV-D68?

First of all, it isn't new. It was first found in California more than 50 years ago, and has caused isolated outbreaks. It mostly affects babies, kids and teens because their immune systems aren't completely developed. Also, young people have never been exposed to the virus, unlike many adults. EV- D68 usually causes fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and body aches. It can feel like a cold. And that is how you treat it. Have your child drink plenty of fluids, and take over the counter medicines (like Tylenol) for symptoms.

A small number of children, mostly in the Midwest, have developed wheezing and more serious congestion. Many of these kids have a history of asthma. If a child has wheezing or breathing difficulties, she or he should be seen by a health care professional. Based on their symptoms, some children should go to an emergency room. If less serious, they can be seen in an urgent care center, clinic or doctor's office. Antibiotics do not work on Enterovirus D68. But children should receive care to relieve their symptoms.

How can you prevent Enterovirus D68?
It is a virus spread through coughing or sneezing. The Center for Disease Control recommends the following if  anyone in your  house has a breathing illness or virus:

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
  • Disinfect surfaces that are touched often, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

There are no vaccines for this virus. You should follow these steps not only for EV-D68, but anytime there is a flu or cold outbreak.

For more information on how to protect your children, view the Enterovirus D68 (PDF) infographic from the Centers for Disease Control.