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What You Need to Know about Enterovirus

Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

You've probably seen news coverage about a respiratory virus affecting young people across the country. A few cases have been confirmed in Pennsylvania. Here are the facts you should know.

What is Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68)?

Enteroviruses are common seasonal viruses that generally peak in late Summer and early Fall. Enterovirus D68 (EV-D68) is a less common strain that causes cold-like symptoms.

How is Enterovirus Spread?

Enterovirus is spread through respiratory secretions (mucous, saliva, sputum) when an infected person coughs, sneezes or touches surfaces with dirty hands.

Who is at Risk of Enterovirus?

Infants, children, and teenagers are most likely to get infected with enteroviruses and become sick. Children with asthma or other lung conditions may be at risk for more severe illness.

What are Enterovirus Symptoms?

Most infected people have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, but some infections can be serious. Those who become infected may present common cold symptoms, such as a

  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Low-grade fever

More severe symptoms may include:

  • Cough
  • Rash
  • Wheezing

Symptoms may be worse in children with asthma or an underlying respiratory condition.

When Should You Seek Medical Care for Enterovirus?

Monitor children, teens, and adults for respiratory symptoms. If symptoms occur, call your primary care doctor. If there's any rapid breathing or labored breathing head to the doctor's office or emergency room

How is Enterovirus Treated?

Because it is a virus, antibiotics don't help. There is no antiviral medication to treat it.

"Make sure children get plenty of rest and stay well hydrated. Ensure children with conditions such as asthma are diligently taking all medications prescribed to control their symptoms," Jason Komasz, MD, Vice Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, suggests. Dr. Komasz adds, "Children with severe illness may need to be hospitalized to receive supportive care."

How Do You Prevent Enterovirus?

You and your family can help prevent the spread of enterovirus in the following ways:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after changing diapers, sneezing, coughing or wiping/blowing noses
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Avoid kissing, hugging, and sharing cups and utensils with people who are sick
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use your upper sleeve when you cough or sneeze
  • If you are sick, stay home to prevent spreading the illness
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as toys and doorknobs

Questions?

Contact your physician or county public health department. For more information about the virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

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