Protecting Your Children Against the EV-D68 Outbreak - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on September 11, 2014

Protecting Your Children Against the EV-D68 Outbreak

Crozer-Keystone Health SystemMedia Contact:
Mary Wascavage
(610) 284-8619
Mary.Wascavage@crozer.org

Protecting Your Children Against the EV-D68 Outbreak

The fall typically shows an increase in cold and
flu viruses as children go back to school.

Hundreds of children have been hospitalized across the U.S. with a serious respiratory virus called enterovirus D68, or EV-D68 for short.

Although EV-D68 is not a new virus, it is an uncommon one. EV-D68 is a fast-spreading virus related to hand, foot and mouth disease.

How and where the current outbreak began is still being investigated.

“There hasn’t been a definitive determination of what the cause is. The fall typically shows an increase in common cold and flu viruses as children go back to school and co-mingle in close environments for long periods of time,” said Tara White, M.S.N, R.N., C.I.C., manager of Infection Prevention and Control at Delaware County Memorial Hospital.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), mild symptoms of EV-D68 may include a fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and body and muscle aches. However, more severe symptoms can include breathing difficulty, wheezing and a rash.

There currently isn’t a vaccine to prevent EV-D68 nor is there an antiviral medication to treat it. Since it’s a virus, and not bacteria, antibiotics can’t help. On top of that, there isn’t a specific course of treatment, although symptoms can be relieved by over-the-counter medications for pain and fever. Some people with severe respiratory issues may need to be hospitalized, where they may be given supplemental oxygen and medications to help relax and open the air passages of the lungs.

Patients with the most the most critical cases of EV-D68 have needed ventilators to help them breathe.

Anyone is susceptible to getting infected with this virus, but infants, children and teens are more likely to become sick because they haven’t built up immunity from previous exposures to the viruses. In addition, having asthma appears to be a mitigating factor.

“People with asthma may have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness. Among the recent EV-D68 infections in some states, children with asthma seemed to have a higher risk for severe respiratory illness. However, this is still being investigated,” White said.

EV-D68 is being spread through close contact with people infected with the illness. The virus is found in respiratory secretions, so EV-D68 likely spreads from person to person when a sick person coughs, sneezes or touches a surface.

You can protect your children from getting infected with EV-D68 by taking commonsense steps to reduce the risk.

Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to stop infection.

Hand hygiene is the single most effective
way to stop infection.

“Like any bacterial or viral infection, parents should be focusing on prevention with their children,” she said.

You should be thoroughly washing your hands; cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that are commonly touched, especially toys and doorknobs; avoid shaking hands, kissing, hugging and sharing cups or eating utensils with people who are sick and, of course, stay home if you don’t feel well.

“Hand hygiene is the single most effective way to stop infection. Teaching fastidious hand hygiene and talking frequently about good respiratory etiquette is a great way for parents to keep their children healthy as we move in to the cold months,” White explained.

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