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What You Should Know About Enterovirus D68

Posted on October 07 2014

Officials all across the United States are working hard to halt the spread of the Enterovirus D68 virus, which the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says has been confirmed in 43 states and the District of Columbia. According to the CDC, between mid-August and October 6th state public health laboratories have confirmed that at least 594 people have tested positive with the EV-D68 respiratory infection, which has also been attributed to the death of a 4 year old boy in New Jersey this last weekend. (Although it should be noted that officials expect the actual number of infections to be much higher since only those who are displaying the most severe symptoms are being tested.)

While the virus seems to be affecting children between the ages of 6 weeks old and 16 years old, Dr. Eric Freeman of Old Dominion Pediatrics explained during CBS6 Q&A news segment that “any individual with underlying respiratory disease is more susceptible to Enterovirus.”  Dr. Albert Rizzo, senior medical advisor at the American Lung Association, explained in a October 2nd news release that while “most EV-D68 infected children recover without serious illness, children with pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma, appear to be at the greatest risk for severe symptoms from this virus” and may require extra medical care, treatment, and even hospitalization. Like with regular colds and flu infections, many patients can safely be treated at home and find effective relief by using over-the-counter cold medicines. Those experiencing less severe respiratory symptoms can use over-the-counter medications to help ease symptoms like coughs, fevers, and pain (although it should be noted that aspirin shouldn’t be used for children, instead, choose the safer Junior Strength Advil Ibuprofen Tablets, which is specially formulated for kids between the ages of 6-11 years old).

A few quick facts about Enterovirus D68:

--There are no vaccines to protect against catching the virus

--There are no treatments for the virus, like with other cold viruses, treat the symptoms while the virus runs its course

--Those with a history of asthma (as well as a history of being immuno-compromised) are most at-risk

--Officials are investigating to see if there is a link between Enterovirus D68 and the cluster of kids in the Denver area that are now showing symptoms of paralysis and muscle weakness

How Enterovirus D68 spreads:

Like with many other cold and flu viruses, Enterovirus D68 is spread from person to person through exposure to oral or respiratory secretions (such as saliva, sputum, or nasal drainage). Therefore, Enterovirus D68 can be spread through:

-- coughing

--sneezing

--touching surfaces that have been touched by someone who has the virus

Preventing the spread of Enterovirus D68:

Like with preventing the spread of most other types of colds and viruses, officials are emphasizing that the best methods of protection/prevention are to be extra diligent about proper hygiene and disinfecting.

-- Wash your hands frequently, using soap and clean water for 20 seconds

-- Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands

-- Avoid close contact with those who are sick, including hugging, kissing, shaking hands, and sharing beverages or eating utensils

-- Thoroughly clean and disinfect all commonly used surfaces, including counters, door knobs, and toys

When to seek medical attention:

According to a recent news release from the American Lung Association, those who experience the symptoms of a typical cold that are accompanied by wheezing and/or a shortness of breath should seek medical attention. Depending on the severity of symptoms, seek the advice of your family healthcare provider, go to the emergency room, or even call 911 in cases of severe respiratory distress. As always, it’s better safe than sorry; when it doubt, get it checked out! Other symptoms that may signify that medical attention is warranted may include any or all of the following:

-- Wheezing and/or shortness of breath

-- A noticeable increase in the need to use rescue inhalers

-- Drops in peak flows (of oxygen, as measured using an oximeter, which many asthma patients have at home to help them monitor their oxygen intake levels)

--Excessive difficulty with coughing and/or wheezing at nighttime

 

Sources:

http://www.lung.org/press-room/press-releases/lung-disease/EV-D68-Update-100214.html

http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/outbreaks/EV-D68-outbreaks.html

http://wtvr.com/2014/09/09/pediatrician-dr-eric-freeman-answers-questions-about-enterovirus-ev-d68/

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