Enterovirus D68: Symptoms and Treatment

What Is Enterovirus D68?

Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is one of the more than 100 types of enteroviruses which can cause 10 – 15 million infections. EV-D68 was first identified in 1962 in California and until of late, has caused very few infections in the United States. It mostly affects children, causing respiratory problems.

Symptoms of Enterovirus D68

Most children that get enterovirus D68 infections have mild to moderate symptoms. Some includes sneezing, runny nose, fever, body aches and coughing and sneezing. The viral infection can be more severe in children with asthma. It can lead to difficulty in breathing and wheezing.

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Dangers of Enterovirus D68

EV-D68 can be very dangerous to some individuals and mild in others. Young kids with asthma or other respiratory snags can have serious breathing problems develop when infected with this enterovirus. The severity of the disease usually occurs in children with breathing problems, but children without these issues may also develop serious breathing difficulties.

Can Enterovirus D68 Cause Paralysis?

In some children, EV-D68 may cause paralysis, muscle weakness and in some cases, death. However, the infrequent role non-polio enterovirus play in the development of these paralysis symptoms is not well understood. Although enteroviruses rarely may cause weakness in the muscles and even paralysis, enterovirus D68 and many other enteroviruses are still considered as “non-polio” enteroviruses.

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Common Myths About Enterovirus D68

Enterovirus D68 was first identified in California in 1962. Previous epidemics of EV-D68 were small and not characterized by serious complications. Even with this outbreak, most children that become infected with EV-D68 have symptoms they considered to be only a common cold.

Differentiating Enterovirus D68 and the Flu

The symptoms of the flu (influenza) and EV-D68 are originally similar and in mild cases of both infections, clinically vague. Specific lab tests can differentiate these two viruses. Such tests are usually not conducted unless the person develops more severe symptoms. There is no vaccine to protect against EV-D68 but there are vaccines available to protect against flu. Flu usually causes more complications and deaths than EV-D68 or other non-polio enteroviruses, so everyone is encouraged to get their yearly flu vaccine.

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How Enterovirus D68 is Spread

EV-D68 spreads easily from person to person through the air with sneezes, coughs, or other secretions like saliva, nasal mucus or sputum. If these particles that contain live viruses touch surfaces that are then handled by uninfected individuals, they can become infected.

How Long Does Enterovirus D68 Last?

Most children will experience mild to moderate symptoms for about a week. Those with severe symptoms may have infection that last longer (about 10 – 14 days). Unfortunately, the virus may be shed from the body for several weeks so that an infected child, even though they clinically recover in a week, may still shed viruses that can infect others for several weeks.

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Treatment for Enterovirus D68

There are no specific treatments for children with respiratory disease caused by EV-D68. Treatment is supportive to help relieve symptoms such as discomfort, cough, and fever. Aspirin should not be given to children. There are no vaccines or antiviral medications presently available for EV-D68 treatment. Infrequently, children with severe symptoms may require hospitalization and more intensive supportive help such as assistance in breathing. There is no vaccine or antiviral available to prevent EV-D68 infections. Severe symptoms of EV-D68 often require prompt medical care or they need to be taken to an emergency department. Severe symptoms include shortness of breath, a bluish coloration of the lips and wheezing.

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Prevention of Enterovirus D68

Avoiding contact with a person that has an infection with enterovirus D68 is the best protection against the infection. Other precautions include avoiding close contact with bodily fluids, including nasal secretions, mucous secretions, spit, and staying about 6 feet away from someone who is coughing. Also, wash your hands and those of your children properly, avoid touching your eyes or mucous membranes with your hands and avoid physical contact such as kissing or hugging individuals that might be infected.


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