What parents need to know about the enterovirus
Hundreds of children in more than 10 states – including Illinois – have been hospitalized by a severe respiratory illness public health officials believe has been caused by enterovirus 68, also known as EV-D68.
Cases have been confirmed in Illinois and Missouri, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Testing is also underway to see if the virus caused respiratory illnesses reported in children in Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah.
Here’s what parents need to know about the virus according to Donna Currie, the director of clinical outcomes at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove, Ill.,
What is an Enterovirus?
Enterovirus is a very common virus that generally causes a mild illness, and affects approximately 10 to 15 million people in the U.S. each year. Infants, children and teenagers are more likely to become ill from the virus, as these groups do not yet have immunity from previous exposure.
What is EV-D68?
EV-D68 is a specific type of enterovirus that is not commonly reported nor well defined. EV-D68 infections are thought to occur less commonly than infections with other enteroviruses. It was first identified in California in 1962. EV-D68 has been rarely reported in the U.S.
How is EV-D68 transmitted?
EV-D68 can be transmitted through respiratory contact with an infected person’s secretions through coughing and sneezing; close contact with an infected person; or touching your mouth, nose or eyes after touching objects or surfaces that contain the virus.
What are the symptoms associated with EV-D68?
- Primarily a respiratory illness
- Skin rash
- Mouth blisters
- Body and muscle aches
How is EV-D68 treated?
There are no specific treatments, antiviral medications or vaccinations available for EV-D68 infections, but many infections will be mild and self-limited, requiring only treatment of the symptoms. Some individuals may need to be hospitalized and receive intensive supportive therapy, while others will require airborne and contact isolation and symptomatic treatment.
How can I reduce the risk of infection with EV-D68?
- 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 ill
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick
- Stay home when feeling sick and obtain consultation from your health care provider
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.