Enterovirus: What to watch out for?

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General Information:

Enterovirus Infections are very common, especially in the summer months.  These viruses usually result in a bad cold.  There are more than 100 types of Enteroviruses causing 10 – 15 million infections per year in the United States.

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of many non-polio enteroviruses.  These infections are thought to occur less commonly than infections with other enteroviruses.  EV-D68 was first identified in California in 1962, it is not new, but compared to other enteroviruses it is not commonly reported in the United States.  It has been seen in clusters around the United States over the last few years.

 

Symptoms:

Enterovirus D68 has been reported to cause symptoms ranging from a mild cold to severe respiratory illness.  Severe respiratory symptoms are more likely to occur in younger children and those with underlying respiratory illness such as asthma.

Important  symptoms to watch for signaling respiratory distress and need to see a physician immediately include: Increase rate of breathing, Retractions (sucking in of the skin around the rib cage when breathing), Flaring of nostrils, audible wheezing, difficulty talking due to shortness of breath, and changes in lip color.

 

Transmission and Prevention:

Enterovirus D68 is found in respiratory secretions such as saliva, nasal mucus, and sputum.  The virus likely spreads from person to person when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or touches contaminated surfaces.

There are no vaccines for preventing EV-D68 infections.  You can help protect yourself from illness by following these steps:

  • Wash hands often, 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 frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.

 

Treatment:

There is no specific treatment for Enterovirus D68 infections.  Because it is a virus no antibiotics will treat the illness.  Many of the infections will be self-limited and require only symptomatic treatment.  There are some people with severe respiratory illness that will require hospitalization and intensive supportive therapy until the virus resolves.

If you have any questions or suspect your child may have symptoms of the virus please contact our office for an appointment.  If your child develops respiratory distress and our office is closed please call the on call physician or take him/her to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Emergency Room for evaluation.

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