Friday, October 3, 2014

Enterovirus D68: What You Need to Know

As with any illness that spreads quickly across the country, it is natural for the public to have increased concern and even worry. After all, there have been almost 277 confirmed Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) cases across 40 states. Everyone can help prevent the spread of respiratory illness.

Jefferson County Public Health has compiled a list of facts to help better understand and prevent the virus.

Who Does the Virus Affect and How? 
  • Children under the age of five are at higher risk of contracting the virus, but older kids and teenagers have been affected;
  • Children with asthma and other preexisting respiratory issues are at highest risk and experience the most severe cases of EV-D68;
  • Common symptoms include runny nose, cough, fever, and achiness. EV-D68 can also cause more severe and serious symptoms such as breathing issues leading to the need for respirators;
  • The virus is spread through direct contact or through the air when propelled by a cough or sneeze of an infected person. 
Treatment and/or Prevention? 
  • There is no vaccine or antibiotic treatment for EV-D68; 
  • EV-D68 can only be diagnosed by doing specific lab tests on specimens from a person’s nose and throat;
  • The best protection against contracting and/or spreading this respiratory virus is by practicing good hygiene: frequent hand washing, disinfecting areas and surfaces that may be contaminated, and containing sneezes and coughs so that particles cannot be spread through the air;
  • Parents can treat aches and pains associated with the virus with over-the-counter medications. More serious cases are treated by doctors with supplemental oxygen and other prescription medications to ease pain.
If you believe your child has a respiratory illness, it is prudent to keep a close eye on their breathing. If your child begins to wheeze, breathe at a fast and irregular rate, or experience strain pulling in enough oxygen, immediately contact your medical provider. For children with asthma, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends meeting with your doctor to create and/or update an “asthma action plan.”

The CDC is working closely with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and Children’s Hospital Colorado to investigating the possible linkage of a cluster of neurological disease to the EV-D68 outbreak. The investigation is ongoing and the CDC will provide updated information as needed.

Download this infographic about EV-D68 from the CDC, and don’t forget to get an annual flu shot.

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