What you should know about Enterovirus 68
Recent reports in the Denver metro area and in other cities across the country have shown an increase in pediatric patients with severe respiratory illness and asthma complications. Initial testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates this may be caused by human enterovirus 68, an uncommon respiratory viral pathogen.
According to Sky Ridge Medical Center physicians, parents should be vigilant and ensure that their children are taking their asthma controlling medications. It is also critical to reinforce good hand and respiratory hygiene:
- Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
- Dispose of the tissue in the nearest waste receptacle after use
- Wash hands thoroughly with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol-based hand rub or antiseptic hand wash after sneezing or coughing
If breathing becomes labored, seek medical attention.
READ MORE: Enterovirus Questions and Answers from the Colorado Department of Education
The 411 on Enterovirus 68
From our partners at Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children and HealthONE
What is it?
Enterovirus 68 is a respiratory illness that starts with symptoms similar to the common cold, but rapidly progresses to wheezing and difficulty breathing. The virus is related to rhinovirus, which causes the common cold.
As with other respiratory viruses, any child with asthma or other chronic illnesses is more susceptible. The virus has been reported to cause wheezing even in children who do not have asthma.
How does it spread?
Enterovirus is spread through contact with others (often via coughing and sneezing), so avoiding people who are sick and washing hands frequently are important steps in prevention. It is important for parents to be aware of the illness and seek medical care should their children develop wheezing. Remember: antibiotics don't work on viruses.
What should you do?
Prevention is key! Be extra vigilant especially if your child has a cold.
Parents of children with asthma need to get them on their inhalers, enforce routine hand washing and help them avoid sick people.
- 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 toys and doorknobs, especially if someone is sick.
- Stay home when feeling sick and obtain consultation from your health care provider.
Sources: Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children at HealthONE and CDC