If you’re a parent or caregiver to a child, you’ve probably heard the recent news about Enterovirus. Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of many non-polio enteroviruses, and clusters of the virus are appearing in states across the Midwest.
Michigan is one of 29 states with confirmed cases of Enterovirus D68.
Enteroviruses are very common, as more than 100 strains are known to exist. It is estimated that 10 to 15 million enterovirus infections occur in the United States each year. Most people infected with enteroviruses have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious, requiring hospitalization. Enterovirus D68 is garnering attention because it has been shown to cause severe respiratory distress in infants, children, and teens, especially those with a history of asthma or other breathing problems. Mild enterovirus symptoms may include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and body and muscle aches, while severe symptoms may include wheezing, difficulty breathing, and racing heart rate.
As of September 15, 2014, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is reporting an increase in severe respiratory illness in children ages 5-17 across the state. MDCH is working with local health departments and hospitals to investigate these cases.
Enteroviruses are transmitted through close contact with an infected person, or by touching objects or surfaces that are contaminated with the virus and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes. There is no specific treatment for EV-D68 infections but supportive care can be provided.
You can help protect yourself from enterovirus by following standard hygiene precautions, including:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick.
- Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
Further, if you or someone you care for, has asthma, be sure they are vigilant in taking all prescribed medications.
For additional information about Enterovirus D68, please visit the Centers for Disease Control.