Enterovirus D68: What Every Parent Should Know

By Shawn Thomas

Parents should be prepared for a new virus that is infecting the Midwest and looking to sweep the nation.

Since mid-August 2014, around 82 people have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to be infected with the dangerous Enterovirus D68, or EV-D68, in six different states.

Recent reports have shown most cases popping up in Missouri and Illinois, but Southern states like Alabama have gotten their first cases along with more western cities like Denver.

With a new outbreak of disease spreading, it’s important to become familiar with what could plague much of the nation this fall and winter.

Just in time for flu season.

What is Enterovirus?

Enteroviruses are actually very common, however it is the strain of Enterovirus D68 that is causing all of the current trouble in the Midwest.  Enterovirus D68, though normally occurring less commonly than other enterovirus infections, can cause mild to very sever respiratory illness, with infection mainly occurring in infants, children and teenagers between the summer and fall seasons.

Because of this, major concern has been drawn by parents; especially because of the rarity of the illness.

Enterovirus was first documented in California in 1962, however, until recently, no major outbreaks have occurred.

Symptoms of Enterovirus

Symptoms of Enterovirus D68 may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough and body aches; much like a common cold or flu.  It is these symptoms that make initial identification of the virus difficult for parents.

Wheezing seems to be the biggest symptom documented so far.

According to WebMD, a majority of the children in this recent outbreak do not have a fever but instead are having difficulty breathing and moving air, with symptoms matching those of asthma; even in children that do not have a history of asthma.

Treatment & Prevention

At the moment, there is no specific treatment or cure for the illness, however over-the-counter medications may be helpful.  Should a child be suffering from severe symptoms, hospitalization may be needed.

The most obvious means of prevention is washing of hands, but it is advised that children avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, and avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing with people who are infected.

 

Shawn Thomas writes Health, Entertainment & Lifestyle content for CBS Local.  Follow him on Twitter.

 

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