Enterovirus EV-D68If you have young children, you may want to be mindful of the recent outbreaks of Enterovirus EV-D68. The respiratory virus has sent hundreds of children to the hospital in Missouri. While the virus has not been detected in Massachusetts, it doesn’t hurt to be informed about the symptoms and effects it can have on young children.

An Enterovirus is a type of virus that is fairly common and produces symptoms similar to that of the common cold. There are more than 100 types of enteroviruses causing about 10 to 15 million infections in the United States each year, according to the CDC. They are carried in the intestinal tract and often spread to other parts of the body. The season often hits its peak in September, as summer ends and fall begins (source: CNN).

If Enteroviruses are so common, why is there suddenly so much concern? The virus has sent more than 30 children a day to a Kansas City, Missouri, hospital, where about 15% of the youngsters were placed in intensive care, officials said. “It’s worse in terms of scope of critically ill children who require intensive care. I would call it unprecedented,” said Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, a director for infectious diseases at Children’s Mercy Hospital, where about 475 children were recently treated. “I’ve practiced for 30 years in pediatrics, and I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” she said (source: CNN).

The children have been tested positive for Enterovirus EV-D68 which isn’t a new type of Enterovirus; it’s just not common. Common symptoms include: coughing, difficulty breathing and in some cases a rash. Sometimes they can be accompanied by fever or wheezing.

Despite the number of incidences, there have been no deaths and all of the children are expected to recover.

The virus is spread through close contact with infected people. While there is no way to completely prevent yourself from catching the virus, there are precautions you can take:

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Disinfect surfaces that are frequently touched by different people.
  • Avoid hugging, kissing, and shaking hands with sick individuals.
  • Stay home from school or work if you are sick.
  • Cover your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing.

There is no vaccine for Enterovirus EV-D68 but with the right precautions your chances of getting ill will be reduced.