What you need to know: EV D68 Virus

Dr. Greg Pineau
Dr. Greg Pineau D.O., Southern Ute Health Center
Photo Credit: Damon Toledo | The Southern Ute Drum

By now you’ve probably heard about the virus sweeping our country. It is called EV (enterovirus) D68 and until recently it was a fairly rare cause of illness. Not this year.

It seems to be hardest on our children, especially those less than five-years-old with chronic lung disease, such as asthma or a history of wheezing. It is spread from person to person through coughing, sneezing or touching contaminated surfaces; much like other respiratory or flu viruses. 

Typical symptoms include: fever, runny nose, sneezing, coughing and body and muscle aches. Those who become very ill, especially children, have difficulty breathing, and some have wheezing. Anyone with these symptoms – especially infants, children or teens – who are having difficulty breathing or getting worse should contact and be seen by their doctor. 

There is no specific treatment or cure for respiratory illness caused by EV D68, only supportive care. For mild illness taking over the counter medications for pain and fever are acceptable.

Remember; never give aspirin, or aspirin containing products, to children.

Those with severe respiratory illness should be seen in the local emergency room, and may need to be hospitalized. 

Prevention is the most powerful deterrent to illness. Wash your hands often, with soap and water, for 20 seconds, especially after such activities as changing diapers. Avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth, kissing, hugging, sharing utensils or toys with people who are sick. Disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as doorknobs and toys.

Except in rare cases, get your flu shot starting at 6 months of age and older. And if you are an asthmatic or someone with chronic lung disease (those most at risk for serious illness) take your regular medicines and inhaler as prescribed to keep control of your illness.

So far, there have been no deaths reported due to the enterovirus D68 this season. Let us ever be vigilant, and diligent, in observing these precautions, that it may remain so. 

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