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EV-D68 Viral Outbreak Affects Children As They Head Back-To-School

Many parents tend to get stressed as their kids head back-to-school each year, worrying about things like if their child will make new friends, like their new teacher, get hurt on the playground, get head lice, or bring home a variety of sicknesses and illnesses. Well, it's barely been one week that the kids have been back to school and my Facebook newsfeed is already full of parents talking about how their child is so sick that they had to stay home from school or were sent home already! According to the experts, cold and flu season has gotten off to an extra early start this year. In fact, some states are already reporting that they've had flu tests come back with positive results. Even worse, the news broke over the weekend about a type of cold virus strain that is spreading through the western United States and resulting in hundreds of children being hospitalized!

In a news brief held on Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed recent reports that 12 states have asked the CDC for help investigating a recent outbreak of respiratory infections that is sending hundreds of children to hospitals across the Midwest and beyond. While investigations are still getting underway, the CDC and other health officials believe that the outbreak is a result of a respiratory virus known as Enterovirus D68 (or EV-D68 for short). At this time only 4 states (Colorado, Illinois, Missouri and Iowa) have been confirmed to have positive cases of the virus, although officials expect that the virus is likely to be present in many other states as well; “EV-D68 is often hard to distinguish from its relatives so the virus could be in other states as well” said the CDC in a CNN News Report.

Symptoms of EV-D68

According to health officials, symptoms of the EV-D68 virus are very similar to the symptoms of the common cold virus. While anyone of any age could catch the virus, experts say this strain primarily tends to affect children, teens, and infants who haven’t had the chance to build up an immunity to the virus yet, and those with asthma or other breathing problems tend to face a higher risk and are more susceptible to the virus.


Symptoms of the virus tend to include:

-- Coughing

-- Runny nose

-- Sneezing

-- Difficulty breathing

-- Rashes

-- Fevers

-- Wheezing


Protecting Yourself & Your Children from EV-D68

Like with many other viruses (such as the cold and flu), the EV-D68 virus is spread through close contact and touching objects/surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus and then touching the face. According to health officials, the best way to protect yourself is to be diligent about practicing proper hygiene and avoiding contact with those are sick.

--Be extra conscientious about not touching the face. Try not to rub the eyes, put your fingers in your mouth (which includes biting your nails!), and don’t pick your nose. Doing all of these things invites all of the germs and bacteria on your hands to enter the body.

-- Wash your hands frequently! Use proper handwashing techniques, which include washing with soap and warm running water for a minimum of at least 20 seconds.

-- Carry around instant hand sanitizer for when there isn’t easy access to soap and/or clean running water.

-- Try to avoid close contact with others (and especially those who are sick). Things like hugging, kissing, shaking hands, and sharing cups or other eating utensils is an easy way to exchange germs with others.

-- If one child in the home gets sick, wearing inexpensive face shields will help prevent the virus from spreading to the rest of the household.

-- It is also important to clean and disinfect commonly used objects/surfaces (including toys, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, phones, faucet handles, refrigerator handles, etc.). Use disinfecting solutions/wipes that kill a broad range of germs and virus.

-- Remember that if you or your child feel sick it’s important to stay home. Getting rest will help you recover quicker and staying home helps prevent you from spreading your illnesses to others.



According to the CDC, there currently isn’t any kind of vaccine available for the EV-D68 virus and there aren’t any specific treatments available for the virus. As a viral infection, antibiotics won’t help. The CDC recommends that those who are sick get plenty of rest, drink extra fluids to help ensure that they stay hydrated, and take over-the-counter medications to help relieve their symptoms. If a high fever, rash, or breathing difficulties appear, consult your healthcare provider or go to an emergency room. Like Dr. Anne Schuchat, who is the assistant surgeon general for the U.S. Public Health Service and the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in the CNN news briefing, "It's [meaning the EV-D68 virus]not usually fatal, thank God for that."



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