A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic Health System

Enterovirus D68: What parents need to know

group of kids reading a book in classPerhaps by now you’ve heard of Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68), but what exactly is it?

Clusters of this viral respiratory illness have shown up in children in the parts of the U.S., including the Midwest.

Dr. Michael Sullivan is a pediatrician at Marshfield Clinic. He breaks down what parents need to know about Enterovirus D68.

What is Enterovirus D68:

Enteroviruses often cause cold-like symptoms or gastrointestinal issues and are quite common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports about 10 to 15 million infections in the U.S. each year caused by 100-plus types of enteroviruses. EV-D68 is a rarely seen strain that causes mild to severe respiratory illness.

Watch for these symptoms:

EV-D68 primarily is a respiratory illness. It may progress and cause serious issues such as coughing, difficulty breathing and wheezing. Parents need to be particularly aware if their child begins wheezing, which indicates trouble breathing.

Seek medical care …

When wheezing is present. If your child is turning blue or cannot breathe, call 911 or take them immediately to the Emergency Department.

How Enterovirus D68 is treated:

Because it’s a virus, EV-D68 is not treated with medications. Vaccines are not available for Enterovirus D68. With that said, most enterovirus illnesses are mild.

Health care providers treat the symptoms to keep patients as comfortable as possible. Children with asthma or other respiratory illness are at most risk for developing serious illness.

Preventing Enterovirus D68:

EV-D68 is spread through close contact with someone who is ill. It’s important your children practice good hand hygiene to reduce the spread of the virus. That means they need to wash their hands often with soap and water and/or use alcohol-based hand rubs.

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