Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is the new concern for many parents sending their children back to school. EV-D68 is considered a rare strain of non-polio enterovirus, and was first identified in California in 1962. This current outbreak was first reported in Missouri and Illinois, but new cases are being confirmed daily. According to CBC news, there have been three confirmed cases of EV-D68 in BC’s lower mainland and at least 18 confirmed cases in Alberta. In Ontario, three cases have been confirmed. Children returning to school can be at an increased risk, as the virus spreads through respiratory secretions (coughing, sneezing, touching contaminated surfaces like doorknobs).
What is EV-D68?
Enterovirus D68 is a virus that causes mild to severe respiratory symptoms and typically affects infants and children. For most children, this virus causes mild symptoms that resemble the common cold. However, children with respiratory problems can develop serious breathing issues. Children with a compromised immune system can also be at a greater risk for complications.
What are the symptoms of EV-D68?
An infected individual can have a variety of symptoms that include fever, runny nose, sneezing, cough, and muscles aches. In more serious cases, a child can have difficulty breathing and low blood-oxygen levels.
You should seek immediate medical care if your child is having problems breathing (including wheezing or turning blue), has decreased alertness, or dehydrated.
How can you protect your child?
The number one way to prevent the spread of this virus is hand washing. Also, practicing good cough etiquette and disinfecting surfaces and shared toys can help.
Boosting your child’s immune system by eating a balanced diet high in vitamin C and low in sugar and high fructose corn syrup is important. You can also see your naturopathic doctor for natural ways to boost your child’s immune system.
If your child has asthma, make sure his or her medication is not expired.
How do you treat EV-D68?
Currently, there are no vaccines or anti-viral medications used to treat EV-D68. If your child becomes ill, the two key things to help with recovery are sleep and hydration. Typically, the virus lasts one week, but this depends on the severity of the infection. If your child is severely ill, seek medical care immediately.
Has anyone died from EV-D68?
Currently, there are no reported deaths from EV-D68 this year.
Belluz Julia. Sept 17, 2014. What we know (and don’t know) about rare virus infecting kids across the US. Available at: http://www.vox.com/2014/9/8/6122471/what-we-know-about-the-new-enterovirus-outbreak-virus [Sept 18, 2014].
CBC News. Posted September 16, 2014. Enterovirus D68: 3 confirmed cases in BC’s Lower Mainland. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/enterovirus-d68-3-confirmed-cases-in-b-c-s-lower-mainland-1.2767238 [September 18, 2014].
CDC. 2014. Enterovirus D68. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/non-polio-enterovirus/about/ev-d68.html [September 18, 2014].