You may be aware that an increasing number of children in several U.S. states have been diagnosed with Enterovirus D68. Specialists at EIRMC are currently treating 6 children with symptoms consistent with Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). Tests conducted at EIRMC and by state health officials indicate that these patients have contracted an enterovirus, a respiratory virus with more than 100 known strains.
Here are facts and information that can help you to understand why this virus is gaining national attention, and how to reduce your child's risk of contracting it.
Each year, 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States, usually during the summer and fall.
EV-D68 usually causes mild to severe respiratory illness. Young children and people with asthma are particularly vulnerable. It is important to note that respiratory symptoms can progress quickly. Symptoms bear close watching, because many children don't "look" sick.
Most people who are infected do not get sick, or only have mild illness. Symptoms to watch for include:
- difficulty breathing
- shortness of breath
- rapid breathing
- mild fever; sometimes no fever
- runny nose, sneezing, cough
- skin rash
- body and muscle aches
- mouth blisters
Some infections can cause:
- viral conjunctivitis
- hand, foot, and mouth disease
- viral meningitis (infection of the covering of the spinal cord and/or brain).
For children with asthma:
Children with asthma should continue to follow their asthma action plans and speak with their doctor regarding yellow and red zone instructions. According to the CDC, more than half of the children with lab-confirmed EV-D68 nationally have a history of asthma or wheezing.
When to Seek Treatment
If you are concerned for any reason, notify your doctor. If your child is experiencing signs of respiratory distress, such as wheezing, shortness of breath, feeling of "not getting enough air," call your doctor immediately or go to the ER. If your child turns blue, stops breathing, or is unresponsive, call 911.
Since many infected people do not have symptoms, it is difficult to prevent EV-D68 from spreading. But these tips can help keep your family healthier:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, touching, 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.
- Stay home when feeling sick, and consult with your doctor if your child is experiencing symptoms.
EIRMC's Children's Services is ready to help children who are experiencing serious virus-like symptoms. Specially trained physicians and nurses can deliver advanced care to infants, children and adolescents who require hospitalization, including pediatric critical care, if needed.
If you have further questions, contact your healthcare provider or Eastern Idaho Public Health District at 533-3152.