5 Things Parents Should Know About Enterovirus

1. What is Enterovirus EV-D68?

Enteroviruses are very common respiratory illnesses that typically display symptoms of a cold. People tend to experience these viruses during the summer and fall months.

EV-D68 infections are a smaller, less common subset of enteroviruses. They are usually spread by close contact with an individual who has the virus. Infants, children and teens have the highest risk of infection because their immune systems have not had enough exposure to the viruses to build up immunity.

2. What Are the Symptoms?

The enterovirus can start with cold-like symptoms: coughing, runny nose, sneezing. But with EV-D68, individuals may wheeze or have difficulty breathing, a fever or develop a rash.

3. Should I Be Worried?

Most cases will be mild and not require medical treatment.  This is a virus and does not respond to antibiotics. There is no vaccine.

Since it can be difficult to tell the difference between a regular cold and this virus, it’s important to pay attention to the symptoms, especially in infants and young children. They are more susceptible to catching the illness.

Be especially careful if your infant or child has allergies or asthma and starts showing signs.

4. When Should I Seek Help?

  • If your child is coughing and develops a slight wheeze, call your pediatrician
  • If your child has a fever or develops a rash with the symptoms, is wheezing  or has trouble breathing, see your pediatrician
  • If your child develops severe wheezing, or the lips and/or skin begin turning blue, go to the Emergency Department or call 911 immediately

5. How Can I Protect My Child?

The virus spreads through close contact with people who have the virus, or by touching surfaces with the virus and then touching your face.  Steps you can take to reduce your child’s and your own risk include:

  • Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for 20 seconds. This is the most important thing you and your children can do in preventing viruses. For more on hand washing, read the CDC’s  guide
  • Do not touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces (toys, doorknobs, phones and devices)
  • Stay home if you are ill. Keep your children home when they are ill. Do not hesitate to call your doctor if you are worried or uncertain

Meet the Author

Angela Tonozzi, MD, MS is the System Director-Infection Prevention at Aurora Health Care in Elm Grove, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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