What Parents Need to Know about Enterovirus D68
Every year, millions of children in the United States catch enteroviruses that can cause coughing, sneezing, and fever. These viruses most often spread in the summer and fall. Enterovirus D68 is one of many enteroviruses that can make people sick. Take basic steps to protect your child and others.
Infants, children, and teenagers are at higher risk than adults for getting infected and sick with enteroviruses like enterovirus D68 (EV-D68). That’s because they may not have been exposed to these types of viruses before, and they may not yet have immunity (protection) built up to fight the disease. If your child has asthma, he or she may be at greater risk for severe respiratory illness from EV-D68.
In August 2014, a couple of states started seeing more children in hospitals with severe respiratory illness caused by EV-D68. In the months following this discovery, CDC and states did more testing and found that EV-D68 was making people sick in almost all states. Most of the cases were among children, many who had asthma or a history of wheezing. EV-D68 is not new, but activity varies from year to year. Better lab testing has led to easier detection of EV-D68.
Know the Symptoms of EV-D68
EV-D68 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness.
Mild symptoms may include:
- runny nose
- body and muscle aches
Severe symptoms may include:
- difficulty breathing
Call your child’s doctor if he or she is having difficulty breathing, if you feel you are unable to control symptoms, or if symptoms are getting worse. Your child may need to be hospitalized if he or she develops severe illness.
Washing hands correctly is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy.
Children with asthma are particularly at risk for severe symptoms from EV-D68 infection.
Help Protect Your Family from EV-D68
To help avoid catching and spreading EV-D68, parents and children should always follow these basic steps to stay healthy:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds. Washing hands correctly is the most important thing you can do to stay healthy. See Handwashing: Clean Hands Save Lives.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging, and sharing cups or eating utensils, with people who are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or shirt sleeve, not your hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home when you are sick and keep sick children out of school.
There is no specific treatment for EV-D68. Talk to your child’s doctor about the best way to control his or her symptoms.
If Your Child Has Asthma
Children with asthma are particularly at risk for severe symptoms from EV-D68 infection. If your child has asthma, take some steps to prepare in case he or she catches EV-D68. CDC recommends you do the following to help maintain control of your child’s asthma during enterovirus season, which occurs each year in the U.S. during summer and fall:
- Discuss and update your child’s asthma action plan with his or her doctor.
- Make sure your child takes his or her prescribed asthma medications as directed, especially long-term control medication(s).
- Make sure your child knows to keep asthma reliever medication with him or her or has access to it at all times.
- Get your child a flu vaccine, since flu and other respiratory infections can trigger an asthma attack. Learn more about the flu vaccine.
- Follow your child’s asthma action plan and call your child’s doctor if he or she is having difficulty breathing, unable to control symptoms, or if symptoms are getting worse.
- Make sure caregiver(s) and/or teacher(s) are aware of the child’s condition, and that they know how to help if the child experiences any symptoms related to asthma.